It has somewhat belatedly come to my attention (sadly, via my own mother) that the latest target of the anti-vaxxers is Gardasil and/or Cervarix, the recently developed vaccines against human papilloma virus (HPV), the virus which causes around 70% of cervical cancers.
Now, when this vaccine was introduced, I was very excited, and so happy that my daughter could be vaccinated for free at school. Why would I care so much? Well, I had cervical cancer myself back in 1997. It wasn’t detected with conventional screening, because it was in a weird place (quite high up on the cervix), and it was only my own and my doctor’s vigilance and insistence on further testing that led to detection of the cancer. I had to have a “radical hysterectomy”, which is the removal of the entire uterus, the cervix, and most of the surrounding lymph nodes (but not the ovaries). I was 30 years old.
Luckily I managed to avoid further treatment, and now 16 years on I’m perfectly healthy, although I have an impressive scar down the middle of my belly. But you can imagine my distress when my mother started speaking out against Gardasil, and even posted that “cervical cancer is a sexually-transmitted disease – if you don’t have sex before marriage, you won’t get it.”
Is this really what they’re telling their daughters?
In the US, things are more serious. Apparently many parents are refusing to vaccinate their daughters for fear that the vaccine will make them promiscuous, despite excellent evidence to the contrary: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23071201
I found some blog posts here detailing some of the bizarre mess that’s been going on in the UK as well:
Here’s another blog that looks specifically at the religious right and its activities in suppressing Gardasil vaccination:
I’m worried about the effect this will have on girls. Why should girls not have the right to be protected from the disease that might have killed me and has killed many other women?
To end on a positive note, my 24-year-old son (living in the US) has recently finished his course of Gardasil. At least someone’s doing the right thing.