[SaneVax: No one knows if HPV vaccines will last long enough to prevent cervical cancer. Nevertheless, health authorities around the world promote them as the best invention since sliced bread. The problem is that in order to exercise your right to informed consent you must have accurate information on which to base your decision.]
Opinion: Questions about Gardasil
By Michelle Booth, Special at The Gazette
MONTREAL — Like many people, I feel overwhelmed by the conflicting health information in the media. Many of us do not have the free time to wade through the endless facts that we must assimilate to form an educated opinion on matters that are important to us.
The campaign against the human papillomavirus is an example of how information overload may drown out the information that is necessary for us as parents to act on behalf of our children.
Health Canada has approved two vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, to prevent infection and possibly cancer from HPV, a virus that is primarily sexually transmitted. More than 100 types of HPV have been identified; Gardasil — the vaccine that the Quebec Health Ministry uses in this province’s vaccination program — is reported to prevent four types – 6, 11, 16, and 18. Types 16 and 18 cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers worldwide, and types 6 and 11 cause most genital warts.
Gardasil has been aggressively promoted as a safe method to prevent cervical and other cancers. Advertisements tell girls and women that if they are vaccinated they will be “one less statistic.”
In 2008, the Quebec government launched its free HPV vaccination program, which aims to vaccinate girls and young women between the ages of 9 and 17, and women between the ages of 18 and 26 who have weakened immune systems.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, approximately 90 per cent of HPV infections will clear up within two years without any treatment. But those that do not may put women at risk of developing cervical cancer.
Any developments that reduce illness and death associated with cancer should be cause for celebration. But many people feel there are multiple issues about Gardasil that have not been adequately addressed, and there have been allegations about misinformation in the Gardasil campaign. As a woman and a concerned mother, I believe this is an important topic that must be debated further.