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Parents Views On Sex Don’t Influence HPV Decision

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, August 25, 2008 10:30 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Gardasil, HPV, Merck, CDC, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Dangerous Drugs, Cervical Cancer

Gardasil given regardless of a mothers' view on premarital sex, a study finds 


 IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockphoto/ Eric Hood

HPV Types 16 and 18 cause 70% of cervical cancer cases, and HPV Types 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts cases.

GARDASIL may not fully protect everyone and does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it is important to continue regular cervical cancer screenings.

University of Texas Medical Branch team found that a mothers’views about premarital sex do not affect her decision either way on whether she gives her pre-teen the Gardasil vaccine.

Gardasil, made by Merck, is designed to protect against two strains of the human papillomavirus that cause cervical cancer.

It is not yet proven as a preventative because it can take a decade after exposure for an HPV infection to develop.

The survey was trying to find whether mothers who do not believe in premarital sex also do not believe in the vaccine.

Instead, they found those mothers were just as likely to have their daughters vaccinated as mothers who didn’t have that expectation.

“This is a decision about parenting, vulnerability and vaccine attitudes, not sexuality,” according to Susan Rosenthal, a UTMB pediatric psychologist and the study’s author.

The study finds that mothers who decided to wait to have their daughters vaccinated, wanted to learn more about the vaccine, which has been on the market for just two years.  Many physicians recommend you wait until a product has been on the market for five years before you know the efficacy and safety of it.

The survey, published in the September Journal of Adolescent Health, involved about 150 mothers at a UTMB pediatric clinic in 2007. It reflects a mixed socio-economic picture. 

Texas Gov. Rick Perry in February 2007 issued an executive order requiring the Merck vaccine be mandatory for schoolgirls after an aggressive campaign by the drug maker. Merck did much of its lobbying after contributing to Women in Government, an organization for female state lawmakers.

But some Texas state legislators argued that their girls should not become “the study group” for the vaccine.

Some others felt offering protection from cervical cancer would encourage sexual activity. 

Rosenthal’s study was funded by Merck and the National Institutes of Health.

The three-series Gardasil vaccine costs about $360 and does not protect against all forms of cervical cancer.  It is recommended to be given before girls become sexually active to protect against two strains of a virus that causes HPV and two strains that cause genital warts.

Its efficacy is not known and may need a booster after five years. 

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease and has no symptoms. About 3,800 women die from it every year according to the American Cancer Society.

In more than 90 percent of the cases, the immune system clears up an HPV infection.  

Women given the Gardasil vaccine are still encouraged to have regular Pap smears, which are credited with reducing cervical cancer incidents by 74% between 1955 and 1992.     

A doctor who help Merck develop Gardasil says the Pap screen may still be the most effective way to cut cervical cancer rates. 

"If we vaccinate every single 12-year-old, it should reduce by half the number of cervical cancers in the next 35 years," says Dr. Diane Harper, director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at Dartmouth Medical School in Hanover, N.H..    "With Pap screening, we've reduced it by nearly 75%."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working on a report on the efficacy and safety of Gardasil following reports that 21 young women have died suddenly after being vaccinated.  Other girls report paralysis.  

A research paper by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit that focuses on sexual and reproductive health, says that HPV is spread through skin to skin contact, not through bodily fluids, so a condom would be effective in stopping its spread. #

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