Wednesday, February 28, 2007

HPV Infection Higher Than Thought

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control finds the rate of HPV infection among America's women is much higher than earlier thought. HPV, a sexually-transmitted virus which causes cervical cancer in women--infects more than a quarter of all women between ages 14 and 59. Among youger women from age 9 to 26, nearly one-half are infected with HPV. At least 3 million are thought to be infected with a strain of the virus likely to cause cervical cancer.

Legislative efforts have been launched nationwide this year, including here in Indiana, to require young school-aged girls to be vaccinated against HPV. The only current manufacturer of the vaccine, Merck, invested in those legislative efforts, but it recently ceased its efforts after its lobbying efforts became a focus of the debate. Legislation authored by Sen. Connie Lawson (R-Danville) has cleared the Senate, but not before it was watered down to a mere education bill. That came after the Christian right led an all out assault against the bill, claiming a vaccine requirement would promote promiscuity among young girls.

According to the study, an estimated 11,150 U.S. women will be diagnosed this year with cervical cancer, and about 3,670 will die from it.


Wilson46201 said...

Since this blog has been labeled as AdvanceHomosexuality by GOP wingnuts, it should be noted that some doctors do not consider it unwise for sexually-active gay men to be vaccinated. The HPV viruses are responsible for a variety of STDs and complications. HPV is not gender-specific!

Anonymous said...

The issue of promoting premarital sex is unimportant compared to the issue of a government body legislating our kids' health. I'm all for vaccinations. But they're my kids, so I'll choose.

Anonymous said...

I think the just released study yesterday would have been an effective tool in furthering the issue than just stating you are vaccinating young girls.

I do notice that currently all the commercials are aimed at young women, which amuses me because it is spread by sex between TWO people. Why are we not educating young men that cancer can be a result.

I will admit to wanting to see more data on the results of the vaccine in the future before I signed up a child of mine but this latest information tipped me.

And let's be honest here, any woman who has ever had a test come back as 'irregular' had to stop and take a deep breath on what that means.

Anonymous said...

Uh, Lance...the 50s called...they'd like you to return. Post-haste.

The last legislative measure considered, would've made this vaccine optional, but the information distribution would've been mandatory. The Eric Miller crowd killed it, using good ole Lance's talking points.

A similar program regarding mandatory scoliosis checks in schools, was passed maybe 12-15 years ago. Early detection of that condition has increased dramatically, and improved health is the result.

What about the tens (hundreds?) of thousands of young girls who are in foster care, or who have bad parents? You know what happens to them when they need health care?

We pay for it, that's what.

We who have the proper resources can make good choices for our kids. As with any social issue, it's the non-resourced people who get hurt by these kinds of things.

We owe it to them to explore every opportunity to provide a safer environment.

That said, the studies like Gary noted on this post are extremely helpful. Let's get more fired-up PDQ. Information often kills stupidity. Not always, ergo Brian Bosma, Sen. Drozda, et al....

And for once, Wilson's point made me stop and think. We males had better wake up, too.

(Griudgingly, but sincerely: thanks Wilson)

Anonymous said...

"I'm all for vaccinations. But they're my kids, so I'll choose."

Exactly. Also, it is horrible they call this HPV, which sounds like HIV. Wonder how many kids will end up thinking they are protected against HIV because they got a shot when they were nine years old?

This is nothing more than a push by Merck to make big bucks using a government mandate. Merck will then be covered if this vaccine ends up causing more harm than good. They can say the FDA gave the ok and the states forced the use of it. A win-win for Merck. If government is going to force drugs upon us, then I say the government do all the testing and selling. A private company should not get a dime from a government mandated vaccine.

HPV is NOT a serious health issue in my eyes. We have around 40K people a year in auto accidents, yet the government does not mandate front air bags, side impact air bags, curtain air bags, interstate median barriers, alcohol sensing equipment, etc. etc..

Sorry, I will not put my trust in my government or a billion dollar company with it's eye on one thing only...$$$$$$$$$$$.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe that this blog would promote legislated government intervention over a parents right to choose appropriate health care. Especially in this case, where the HPV vaccine legislation is admittedly being promoted and lobbied for by the profit driven manufacturer of the product. It's beyond comprehension to me and stinks of a nanny state mentality.

It reminds me of the federal government initiative to screen teens in schools for psychological disorders using a YES/NO questionaire, and subsequently approve medications from a list of "approved" pharmaceutical products produced by leading pharma manufacturers. Parents who refuse to consent may face prosecution, as is the case for one family in northern Indiana whose active honor roll daughter answered "yes" when asked if she sometimes feels sad, and was subsequently recommended to undergo medication.

Is HPV a reality? Certainly. Is legislated medication of a poorly tested vaccine - based upon the lobbying efforts of the vaccine manufacturer - anything close to an acceptable solution? The answer is absolutely, without question, a resounding NO.

Here are a few pictures of a 14 y/o girl who was administered the vaccine, preceded by a comment from her grandmother. I'm not a doctor, but the symptoms sound very much like the girl's liver was damaged, causing her bilirubin count to fail and resulting in unprocessed bile salts being released through the skin, from which there is no remedy to the sores and the overwhelmingly painful itching:

Attached are 3 pictures of my 14 year old grandaughter. This is what she has been living with since November. Sometimes the flare ups are much worse. There is no relief or medication for the pain, burning and itching.



and Here

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:08 scares the living you-know-what out of me. It's not just the casual disregard for the roles and responsibilities of parents, but it's also the likelihood that 9:08 and so many others have a genuine belief that parents can't or won't do their jobs. So, people like 9:08 work hard to take away any more chances for parents to do their jobs. Have you ever thought, 9:08 (and others who share your thoughts), that your efforts to turn these decisions over to faceless, impersonal government employees (think about that for a minute) are actually contributing to the problem that you describe?

Here is a very abreviated summary of the thought processes from the father of two young girls who IS involved with their lives and who opposes this bill:

1) The cases of cervical cancer are already declining rapidly - now just one in 10,000. Deaths from the disease are even lower than that.
2) Cancer has some clear hereditary influences - and my family has almost no cancer in its entire history.
3) Nonetheless, this vaccine could help lower the cancer chances even more. So maybe it is a good idea.
4) My wife and I have already discussed this vaccine with both my wife's OB/GYN and my children's pediatrician. (We had those discussions before any bill was ever filed in the State House and before any of this started to make news.) Is there really anything that a government document could tell us that I would trust more than the advice that I have gotten already from those two highly respected MDs?
5) I am intrigued by the littany of warnings that are included in every advertisement for a drug. Yet, when the so-called "wing-nuts" tried to make sure that the same warnings were included in the information that would be mandated through this bill, that requirement was defeated. And the authors of that proposed amendment excoriated. I'm not a conspiracy nut, but this sure does suggest that there is something to hide.
6) The studies indicate that the drug is effective for five years. No booster is currently available and studies are still underway on whether a booster is needed or even possible. The goal of the vaccine's advocates is to get girls immunized before they become sexually active, and therefore exposed to the virus that can cause cancer.
7) The previous proposal to require a vaccine at age 11 (now a requirement to get information at age 11) is based on CDC studies suggesting that the majority of girls are "sexually active" before they leave high school. What does this mean? Does that include petting, which does not spread the disease; or is this sexual intercourse? The surveys on sexual activity have been so grossly distorted to promote various political and other special interest agendas that I really do not know what to believe in this area.
8) If I decide that my daughter will benefit from this vaccine, then what kind of chance am I taking if I give it to her at age 11? If she starts having intercourse by the time she is 16 (OMG!), then I may have made the right decision. But if I am a successful parent and keep her away from that activity until later in her life, then I may have done her a disservice by missing the proper vaccine window (and by having so little faith in both her and our parenting duties).
9) Why should my children's school be burdened by this at all? Even if the information is a mandate, then why isn't the mandate on pediatricians rather than schools? No health information that I get from a school will ever carry more weight than the info I get from my MDs. And besides, don't schools already have far too much to do?

So, count me as one of those "wingnuts" who opposes the bill. Count me as one of those parents who just doesn't care. Count me however you want.

My wife and I, along with our chosen MDs, are still discussing our choice of action in this manner. It will not be an easy decision. But I am very greatful that the "wingnuts" have preserved my right to make that decision. No thanks to 9:09 and others who wanted to strip me of that right.

Whatever role schools (and other government entities) end up playing in this will have no influence on our discussions and decisions. But I do feel very badly for the parents who will actually rely on government-provided or school-provided information on medical matters. What a shame that they have been led to believe that the men and women who fill our schools, who fill our government agencies and who fill our state legislature may be smarter on such subjects than their own pediatricians.

Thank you to people like 9:09 for helping to create that state of being.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Hysteria rules.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Wow. Hysteria rules.

11:16 AM EST

Isn't that the truth. The media, government, and private industry team up to use our kids as a source of profit and the sheople swallow the lies - hook, line, and sinker.

Then the sheople get hysterical when folks who believe in liberty, freedom of choice, and limited government stand up for their rights. It's simply amazing.

I stand for individual liberty, limited government oversight, individual rights, and everything else promised by the US Constitution. Forcing a nanny state for the sake of corporate profit - under the guise of health care - is contrary to everything I believe in. My kids, who are young Americans, deserve to have health care that isn't influenced by the confluence of profit and politics.

So let's cut out the crap and support the tenets of a free society over the will of the State.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, 11:16, for your brief, succinct response. It demonstrates well that you do not have the intelligence to say anything more or any facts to counter the genuine concerns of parents.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:49 and shorebreak: I am a parent.

Of teenaged girls.

And they, their mother, our doctors, perhaps our minister, and I will discuss this "threat" and vaccine.

But what about those who have no parents, or bad parents? Where do they go to get the same enlightened discussion?

If they're lucky, to doctors, clinics and programs funded by us. If they're not lucky, they don't get the information and informed decisions cannot be made. That's actually more typical.

I'm suspicious of a drug company hiring Texas' governor's former chief of staff as their chief lobbyist, to push this drug onto us.

But I've read enough to know, that the link betwene HPV and cervical cancer is beyond statisical anomoly. It's a proven, direct link.

And Wilson's earlier admonition is correct: young men had better be involved in this discussion, too. Unprotected sex has risks beyond this link.

I know the subject is serious, but isn't the air getting just a ltitle thin up there on your pious podium? Think beyond your own small world. Thousands of young people need this information, and perhaps the vaccine.

I'd say "lighten up" but that's too glib. Try taking a step back. Premarital sex is not, and never was, the issue.

Anonymous said...

Premarital sex IS one of the issues in this discussion. To deny that is just plain silly. How many married 11-year olds do you know? And yet, that's when Indiana wants this issue addressed.

But there is so much more to this issue, too. It is absolutely fair to ask how poor families will get information. But hold one second. Our kids already required to gets immunizations for several cumunicable diseases. So where are poor kids getting those? They are getting from medical doctors and medical facilities, of course. They are NOT getting them from schools, non-medical government agencies and legislatures.

But even if some kids are getting missed in that system, does that justify stripping parental rights from all other parents? Does that justify putting yet one more non-academic duty on the backs of our schools?

You're argument seems to be far too simple: this is important so we should mandate it. Where in the world does that line of thinking stop? Since there are far more people dying every year as the result of poor eating habits, why don't we strip food selection from parents as well? Statistics also tell us that the poor in the US are much more likely to be obese than the non-poor, so there is clearly a problem there. So why not? If mandating this vaccine will save a few thousand lives, imagine how much more good we could do if we stripped parents of making food choices for their parents!

Anonymous said... choices for their children. (sorry)

Anonymous said...

Wow. When you climb down from Hysterical Mountain, you'll see:

I did not advocate mandatory vaccinations.

I merely indicated that for poor or under-informed folks (not mutually exclusive categories), there ought to be mandatory information available. And, for those who choose to get the shots, and cannot afford it, they should be provided. The only real way to get the info into everyone's hands, without discriminating agains tthose who cannot afford treatment, is to offer the info to all.

And as for treatment, hell, it's a cheap insurance policy. If the govt. is paying for the health care one way or another, I'll take a $40 shot over a huge cervical cancer bill, any day.

And premarital sex, friend, is not the issue here. Back off that. I'm going to do everything I can to convince my children, and any other kids who will listen, that promiscuous sex is inappropriate and, potentially, deadly.

Calm down. There is another side. It's called "reasonable."

Anonymous said...

I had cervical cancer, diagnosed at age 28, due to HPV. Luckily, I had access to great health care and although it was stage 4, a hysterectomy took care of the problem and no follow up treatment was required (thank you, IU Med Center & Dr. Katherine Look, and also to my family physician who was something of a martinet about annual pap tests).

I find all of this conversation here a bit weird.....although my life has turned out just fine (15 years cancer free), the fact is that HPV prevented me from being able to give birth. It certainly resulted in quite a scare to myself and my family. It resulted in a big hit to my employer/insurance company.

Now there is something that can dramatically reduce the number of young women who experience this disease (many of whom are not as lucky as I was). Why, exactly, would you NOT widely distribute this vaccine?

Sorry to say it so bluntly, but WHAT IN THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE THINKING?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:52,

You are missing so many points here that I don't know where to begin; but it does help explain your condescending, distracting and non-substantive argument of "calm down."

Here are just a couple of key points:

1) This bill did start out as mandate, and it is only because of the so called "wing-nuts" that the bill has been scaled back to the point that it is now. So while many on this blog and some in this specific exchange continue to excoriate that group, I am quite thankful for them.

2) The cost is not $40. Every estimate that I have seen is over $300 for the full battery (I believe it's 3 doses for $100 each).

3) You have absolutely failed to address why this should be a reporting and tracking mandate for our schools, as it is currently written. It's one thing to say people should have information. It is several more steps down that path to endorse the reporting and tracking requirements that are in this bill. Have you even read the latest bill?

4) If you think this has nothing to do with pre-marital sex, then you really have no idea what this drug does. And in that case, maybe you are right to believe that parents need to be trumped in their decisions; because you would be a great example of someone who does not have the knowledge to be making these decisions for your own children. Read again the issue about 5 years of effectiveness. If you really think this drug will make a difference, then are you really comfortable in making sure that your daughter is covered from age 11 to age 16? If you don't understand that simple point, then maybe you should not have the right to make these decisions.

Sorry, friend, it is just way to simplistic to say, "It's important, so we should just do it." It is also intellegically lame to accuse those who do ask for details and who do express concerns as being "wing-nuts," "hysterical," etc. That's about as thoughtful as someone getting on this blog and dismissing all that is said by the host because it's run by a "fag."

It is really shameful that we have reached a point where so many people can dismiss important concerns by throwing names and other characterizations at the people who express those concerns; and that so many people think it is better to just put these issues into the hands of government rather than parents. And then people like 9:08 (and later posts too?) are concerned that parents are uninvolved and uncaring.

As I have said, I am very thankful that the "wing-nuts" have forced the changes to this bill that they have. If it had not been for Eric Miller, Micah Clark and others in this battle, then all parents of girls in this state would be facing almost assured passage of a mandate for this vaccine. Thanks to those "nuts," my wife and I will maintain our rights to make a thoughtful decision on this issue for our own children.

I still don't like the idea that schools will be burdened by this issue, I do not understand why the focus is not more on pediatricians (rather than schools) and I am concerned that there are efforts underway to limit the information that parents will receive. But in this househould - my household - I know that the decision for my children will be an informed one. The "just do it" crowd clearly does not have that goal in mind.

Anonymous said...


There are a lot of things that people are thinking. For one, some of us are trying to protect the roles, rights and responsibilities of parents. If that goes away, then cervical cancer is likely to be a minor problem in this whole scheme of things.

Second, for those of us who want our kids to have the vaccine, we want to make sure that it is done at a time when it is effective. Getting this vaccine at 11 may actually defeat the whole purpose if our daughters are not exposed to HPV until age 19 or 20.

Third, some of us are concerned that this drug is still in its infancy and that there may be side affects for some that are actually worse than the disease it is intended to prevent. Why else was Merck actively lobbying states to mandate the drug? Why else is there resistance to including the warnings that are typical for drugs on the information that the state is mandating to be distributed? Why else is this drug being gtreated differently from so many others, which are typically recommended for people who are at higher risks of whatever disease the drug addresses?

I am sorry to hear your story, 4:29. I definitely do want my own two daughters to face that in the future. I also don't want them to face other possible problems that could result from making this decision too hastily. And if my wife and I do choose this vaccine for our daughters, then I want to make sure that it is given at an affective point in their lives.

Since you asked, that's just part of what I thinking.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear your story, 4:29. I definitely do NOT want my own two daughters to face that in the future. I also don't want them to face other possible problems that could result from making this decision too hastily. And if my wife and I do choose this vaccine for our daughters, then I want to make sure that it is given at an affective point in their lives.

Since you asked, that's just part of what I thinking.

Anonymous said...

"Why, exactly, would you NOT widely distribute this vaccine?"

Simple: Merck only cares about money. What happens if 10 years down the road this vaccine is shown to cause cancer? Birth defects? Etc.? It seems that in the demand by the sheep for the cure all pill, along with the desire for big $$ by big pharma, we are all too willing to jump the gun in our meds.

No one is saying it should be banned. What we are saying is that widely distributed should NOT equal mandated.

Take this a step further. Since we can find so many health problems of babies prior to birth, why not just mandate abortion? Wouldn't you agree that some of these health problems are just as bad a cervical cancer? Why should we all a mother to bring a human life into this world when it will suffer?

This is a slippery slope.

Anonymous said...

It's a communicable disease. Kids have to be vaccinated for OTHER communicable diseases. If your daughter doesn't get cancer, she can (and will) pass the virus along at some point in her life and let's face it, the odds are pretty high that her partner will, at some point in HIS life, have sex with another woman. This isn't a "parent's rights" issue, it's just a matter of public health.

But you are all fighting the wrong fight anyway - the proposal is to require that the information be distributed. I guess I don't understand how providing information infringes on ANYONE's rights.

Anonymous said...

Still way too shallow, 4:29. Why is this a big deal?

First, because it was orginally proposed as a MANDATE at age 11. That changed only because of the hard work of groups that this blog loves to bash. (See postings from today for yet another example.) On this issue, every parent in the state should be thankful for their work. Yet, additional concerns raised by those groups are being summarily dismissed by some people. (Again, see first comment on this posting.)

Second, there are very fair questions to be asked about the "simple" idea of distributing information. Why schools, which already have far too much to do and which have no expertise in this field? Why not pediatricians? And why not include the same warnings that we see in every other drug promotion? Again, the so-called "wingnuts" tried to have those warnings included in the state-mandated information, but they were soundly defeated and excoriated in the process.

None of this is as simple as it sounds. Only Merck can be happy that people are seeing it as so simple.