Cancer Vaccine Causes Controversy

By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter
By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter

Knoxville (WVLT) - An estimated 6.2 million men and women are infected with the sexually transmitted disease HPV annually in the United States.

It is the virus that causes about 10,000 women to be diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.

The CDC has added the vaccine Guardasil to its childhood vaccination program and will be given to girls age 9 to 18.

Some conservative groups, like Focus on The Family, are denouncing the decision, advocating abstinence, instead.

The vaccine provides protection against four strains of Human Papillomavirus that cause approximately 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts.

"Absolutely, HPV is probably the most common S.T.D. that is around nowadays. Eight out of ten women will get this virus by the time they reach the age of 50," says Dr. Kori Cottam, OB-GYN.

Today, the CDC announced Guardasil will be added to the list of vaccines given to children through its vaccines for children program.

It will be provided to girls ages nine to 18.

But why so young?

OB-GYN Doctor Kori Cottam says ideally, girls and women should get the vaccine before they're sexually active, because it's most effective in those who have not yet acquired any of the types covered by the vaccine.

"So, I think it is so vitally important that young women, before they were sexually active receive this vaccination to just decrease the burden that they're going to have later on with the virus," says Dr. Cottam.

At least 50 percent of sexually active people will get HPV in their lives.

Most of the time, it goes away on its own.

But sometimes it lingers, and the cell changes can lead to cervical cancer over time, if they're not treated.

The only sure way to prevent h-p-v is to abstain from all sexual activity and some conservative groups believe giving young girls the vaccine will promote promiscuity.

"Well, I disagree with that. I think everyone at some point in their life is going to be sexually active. Why not receive a vaccination that will keep you from getting one of the S.T.D.'s and possibly a cervical cancer," Dr. Cottam says.

The HPV vaccine is given through a series of three shots over a six month period.

The second and third doses should be given two and six months after the first dose.

The retail price of the vaccine is $120 per dose, and $360 for a full series.

Guardasil is now available at most doctor's offices and pharmacies.


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