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What You Need to Know About the HPV Vaccine

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We've all heard about Gardasil, the vaccine for HPV which can prevent cervical cancer, but what is it and who should we get it. We've got your HPV Vaccine 101.


CNN's medical new correspondent Elizabeth Cohen breaks it down. HPV (genital human papillomavirus) is the most common sexually transmitted disease. According to the CDC, roughly 20 million Americans have the virus. The major reason to be concerned about HPV is that it is the major cause of cervical cancer, which kills about 250,000 women worldwide each year. Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, protects against four strains of HPV, including two connected to most cervical cancer.

In 2006, the FDA has approved the vaccine for use in girls ages 9 to 26. Doctors suggest the vaccine be given to young girls, preferably before they have sex -- a prescription that has not been without some controversy.

Many women have questioned whether if they get the get the vaccine if they still need to get regular Pap smears. As Gardasil only covers the strains that cause 70% of cervical cancer, there's still that remaining 30% so Pap smears are still vitally important.

As for boys and young men getting the vaccine, Cohen says testing is still underway, but the results are promising. The hope is that by vaccinating men, they won't be able to pass on the virus to women, even further reducing the risk.

What do you think about Gardasil?

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35 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jen January 3, 2009, 9:37 AM

I would like to know when are parents going to stop treating thier children like lab rats. Just because big pharma says it, doesn’t make it so.

Christy January 3, 2009, 10:51 AM

Preventing a deadly disease counts as treating someone like a lab rat? There’s only controversy on this issue because of ignorance.

Wendi January 3, 2009, 11:59 AM

I agree with Christy. My daughter is 13 and we gave her the shot. There were no side effects at all and I know that we did something that could possibly one day saved her life. Sex is not even close to happening soon, as she does not date and has no interest, but I know one day she will and I will feel lots better about it knowing that she is protected.

angie January 3, 2009, 1:19 PM

I agree with Jen. Christy I think you have it switched around- ignorance is on the ones who don’t do the research on the many cons to this vaccine. Yes, is supposedly may help some but how many is is hurting? There needs to be a little more data on the pros and cons than just a few years. Look at the whole picture.

brenda January 3, 2009, 3:44 PM

Sounds like Angie and Jen don’t realize the enormous amount of research and testing that goes on before a vaccine is approved for use. Not to mention that most of those who make the decision to recommend a vaccine are parents themselves.

Diana January 3, 2009, 4:11 PM

As a woman who has followed vaccine safety research for the past ten years and understands exactly how a vaccine gets FDA approval, my 22 year old daughter will NOT be getting the Merck “one less, on less” shots. She will not be a Merck lab rat. Our decision is not out of ignorance. She is however expected to get her pap smear every year. And anyone listening to Dr. Paul Offit on vaccine safety should google his name and conflict of interest, and then look at his bank account. As for thimerosal… google it with Eli Lilly, George Bush.

Dawn January 3, 2009, 8:44 PM

How many girls have died from this one vaccine alone now? 22 or is it higher now?? The only “testing” done on vaccines are conducted by the manufacturers themselves. FYI - if your child lied to you about promiscuity and you vaccinate her with one of those strains that she was already exposed to during previous sexual encounters, you’ve just upped her risk of getting cervical cancer because of the vaccine. Please parents do your HOMEWORK!! Sodium Borate aka Boric Acid is one of the many ingredients in this vaccine. The FDA has banned it in any amount in our food supply, but approved it in Gardasil!!

Miranda January 3, 2009, 11:40 PM

My husband and I don’t do vaccines period for our 2 kids, because of the problems they can cause, there is no way my daughter is getting this one.

John Murawski January 4, 2009, 1:21 PM

The risks associated with Gardasil far outweigh the risk for HPV. How about telling our teenage daughters not to have sex. Let’s see…no sex = no HPV. We need to give our daughters morals, not birth control pills and vaccines. If you would like to see some good information about side effects and cases of death due to Gardasil, I found this to be interesting…
There is a news archive as well with plenty of news about Gardasil. I check this site before I take or give any medications to my family. Do your research.

John  January 4, 2009, 1:28 PM

Oh, and extensive research done? Maybe. But just like vioxx, and many other drugs in the pharmaceutical industry only the “good” results get issued to the FDA. They ghostwrite reports and keep vital information hid from the FDA. Why? Money. They actually have employees that figure how much they will make on the drug (usually billions) and how much they will have to pay out in lawsuits (usually millions). As long as they make money, they will put out a knowingly harmful drug. Sorry, Christy, the only ignorance here is the consumers.

busy January 4, 2009, 5:22 PM

John I hope you do not have any daughters.

Anon January 4, 2009, 6:26 PM

John is correct. I had HPV at 19 and I would still not give my daughter Gardasil. Too many drugs are not safe and we don’t find out until these girls are adults and it’s too late. God save us all.

Reese January 4, 2009, 10:32 PM

Diana—why are you making decisions for your 22 year old daughter? Too insecure to cut the cord? damn.

James January 5, 2009, 12:09 PM

It’s caused death and other issues. ALL SHOTS HAVE MURCERY in them… it’s under the name Thermarasol. It’s poison and now they are seeking FDA approval for males as young as 9 yrs old to get this shot.
WAKE UP… you’re being treated like cattle.

Diana January 5, 2009, 9:17 PM

I’ve tried twice to respond to the comment regarding my daughter’s umbilical cord, but it appears i’m being censored. Short version is when she refused her Merck shots, she was 200 miles away at school - I was no where in sight. She’s a political science major who supports informed consent. She’s a dangerous woman; she reads and votes.

Jane Doe January 5, 2009, 10:01 PM

Reese, really? Your completly off the suject! Go somewhere else if all you want to do is argue with someone! You havent made any comments to the blog except for criticizing one of the readers who actually make sense! Jeez! Anyway, I will not be vaccinating my daughter nor will she get the flu shot or anything else the government pushes so hard to make us do. Too many cons, not enough pros. I wish more people did their research about things that reguared their childrens safety. They think just because other people are doing it, it should be okay. It’s unbelievable!

Laura J. January 6, 2009, 2:17 PM

Public Health decisions have to be made for the whole and not exceptions. The benefits of this vaccine outweigh the risks.

Diana January 6, 2009, 7:13 PM

As long as I have the right to refuse. THE NUREMBERG CODE: Permissible Medical Experiments - 1. The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision…The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the quality of the consent rests upon each individual who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment. It is a personal duty and responsibility which may not be delegated to another with impunity.

Diana January 6, 2009, 7:26 PM

So which element would buying the Nobel Prize to sell this vaccine fall under… force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion? Current Events - December 2008 (Google: nobel prize, hpv, bribery)

ethicalone January 7, 2009, 5:34 AM

Hey, why won’t we make People against inhumane treatment of children, so that parents wont treat their children like lab rats, like animals, people need freedom too

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