WASHINGTON - Women for the first time have a vaccine to protect themselves against cervical cancer. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday licensed the vaccine, Gardasil, for use in girls and women ages 9 to 26.I have blogged on this topic multiple times. The most recent post is here. This is good news for women world-wide. Pap smears still can't be neglected, they are vital for a woman's health.
The vaccine works by preventing infection by four of the dozens of strains of the human papillomavirus, or HPV, the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease.
By age 50, some 80 percent of women have been infected.
Gardasil protects against the two types of HPV responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. The vaccine also blocks infection by two other strains responsible for 90 percent of genital wart cases. The vaccine will be available by the end of the month, with a three-shot series costing $360.
Its manufacturer, Merck & Co. Inc., seeks similar approval elsewhere around the world. Each year, cervical cancer kills an estimated 240,000 women worldwide, including 3,700 in the United States.
Clinical trials showed Gardasil prevented 100 percent of cervical cancer related to the two HPV strains in women who had not been previously infected, Merck said. It also prevented 99 percent of the cases of genital warts caused by the two other strains.
The national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will decide June 29 whether to endorse routine vaccination with Gardasil. That endorsement is critical if a vaccine is to become a standard of care.
It then will be up to individual states to decide whether to add the vaccine to the list of others required before students may attend public schools.
Conservative groups like Focus on the Family support availability of the vaccine but oppose making it mandatory, saying the decision to vaccinate should rest with a child's parents or guardians. It promotes abstinence as the best way to prevent infection by HPV and other STDs.
The vaccine does not eliminate the need for regular Pap tests, which can detect precancerous lesions and early cancer. Merck has said Gardasil could cut the number of abnormal Pap results due to HPV infection.
Now how long will it be before the Palm Beach Post writes another conservative bashing editorial on this subject? I give Randy Schultz and company a week at most.
I side with conservatives on one point. These vaccinations should be up to a girl's family, or the woman when she becomes an adult. We're too much of a nanny state as is and this isn''t a health hazard issue except for the women infected. Call me a libertarian if you want to. People need to make the choices, not the government.
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