HPV Vaccination and Cancer Prevention
Most of the cancer deaths worldwide are caused by cervical cancer. A limited subset of the human papillomaviruses (HPVs) is known to contribute in some manner to which infections occur (Levine, Kaper, Rappuoli, & Good, 2004). Acquisition of this infection is the most common in the United States among all other sexually transmitted diseases or STDs. Adults and sexually active adolescents are the most common victim, causing them to have genital warts as well. Due to this alarming situation, efforts have been made to formulate vaccines that would prevent its proliferation. In 2006, Food and Drugs Agency authorized the first vaccine Gardasil, a recombinant vaccine that was marketed by Merck and Co. This vaccine has a preventive action, instead of a therapeutic one, and is recommended for administration to women at the age between 19 and 25. The purpose of the vaccine is to immunize women before any sexual activity. It offers no protection to women who have already been infected. The administration is the vaccine occurs three times within a six-month period, which demonstrated 100% protection against the HPV originated cervical cancer and genital warts effected by HPV types in the vaccine (Finkel, 2007, p. 184).
From more than 100 types of HPVs, types 17 and 18 account for 70% of the cases of cervical cancer. Types 6 and 11 also contribute to the number of cases. Gardasil is designed to act on these four types. An old vaccine for immunization called Cervatrix, is effective only for strains 16 and 18. Gardasil is proven 100% effective against these four specific types of viruses. However, administration to women above 26 years old is not allowed because the age group to which the vaccine was studied for effectiveness was only to females with ages 9 to 26 (Ko, Dollingerm, & Rosenbaum, 2008, p. 221).
In an individual, the effectiveness of the vaccine is 100%, but for the global level, there are regions not reached by the vaccination. This only immunizes only 71% of the cervical cancer cases concentrated in regions such as Asia, Europe, and North America. Young women are not allowed to undergo administration of the vaccine without the consent of the parents. In relation to this, the optimum age for vaccination is before engagement in a sexual activity. Since HPB is an STD, teenagers experience difficulty in obtaining their parents’ consent (Adeyi, Smith, & Robles, 2007, p. 108).
A recent controversy on HPV is about its mandatory vaccination among all girls entering the sixth grade in the District of Columbia in 2009. As early as 9 years old, sexual activity starts, that is why administration to 6th graders was deemed important by the D.C. council? Texas, a year before, passed legislation for a compulsory administration. These efforts were matched by opposing movements saying that the government should give the authority to parents to do what they want to their children, unless for example in most extreme circumstances (Marcum, 2007).
One of the fears of parents towards the administration of the drug is that their daughters might think of being sexually active because of the 100% immunity that the vaccine Gardasil offers. Also, the vaccination is feared by women, thinking that the vaccine itself might cause harm to them due to its HPV substance content, as well as aluminum. Pros on the use of the vaccine argued that the vaccine is formulated safe. Aluminum is even an ingredient of breast milk. The use of aluminum in vaccines was never found to be harmful in its 75 years of use as vaccine preservatives (Dugan, 2009). It also has at most four years of effectiveness in fighting the four strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer. The cost of the vaccine is $360. It is expensive and inaccessible to many. On the other hand, it still offers 100% protection. Factors such as costs, acceptability, and the competence in the facilities in the local health services are just some of the economic and social factors that may contribute to the success in administration of vaccines to the public (cited in Adeyi, Smith, & Robles, 2007, p. 108).
Adeyi, O., O. Smith, S. Robles, & World Bank. Public policy and the challenge of chronic noncommunicable diseases. Washington, DC: World Bank Publications. Retrieved May 9, 2009, from http://books.google.com/books?id=Ud4wQp9TJPEC&pg=PA107&dq=human+papilloma+virus+HPV+vaccine&ei=dOAESsHdLouIkATr1si2Cw#PPA108,M1
Dugan, D. (2007). Pros and cons of HPV vaccine debated: Gardasil remains controversial despite FDA approval. Retrieved May 9, 2009, from http://www.mtexpress.com/index2.php?ID=2005113740
Finkel, M. L. (2007). Truth, lies, and public health: how we are affected when science and politics collide. Englewood. CO: Greenwood Publishing Group. Retrieved May 9, 2009, from http://books.google.com/books?id=DNUDAKpNg5EC&pg=PA184&dq=human+papilloma+virus+HPV+vaccine&ei=dOAESsHdLouIkATr1si2Cw#PPA187,M1
Ko, A. H., M. Dollinger, E. H. Rosenbaum.(2008). Everyone’s Guide to Cancer Therapy. Maryland: Andrews McMeel Publishing. Retrieved May 9, 2009, from http://books.google.com/books?id=XorrFkZuXyYC&pg=PA220&dq=human+papilloma+virus+HPV+and+cancer&as_brr=3&ei=veEESuKqO5SMkQSpw7m3CA#PPA221,M1
Marcum, C. (2007). D.C Requires Girls to Get HPV Vaccine. Retrieved May 9, 2009, from http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/221367/dc_requires_girls_to_get_hpv_vaccine.html?singlepage=true&cat=5