The NHS offers jabs against cervical cancer. So why did Dr Karen Rogstad pay for her child to have a different injection?
April 18, 2011
By Stephen Adams 6:30AM BST 18 Apr 2011
It is hardly the Christmas present a teenage girl dreams of – a vaccination against genital warts. But that was the gift Dr Karen Rogstad chose for her 17-year-old daughter, Annabelle.
At £450, it hardly came cheap – about the same price as a mid-range iPad – and it didn’t provoke nearly as many hugs as such a piece of gadgety might. However, like scores of other sexual health doctors across Britain, Dr Rogstad believed getting her daughter the jab was the right thing to do.
In February, a poll of 520 members of the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) found that almost two-thirds of clinicians with teenage daughters had already paid for the Gardasil vaccine, which protects against both genital warts and cervical cancer. That is despite teenage girls being offered a cheaper jab, called Cervarix, free on the NHS.
Both vaccines protect against the human papillomavirus (HPV) which cause the two diseases. However, while Cervarix protects against two HPV strains (numbers 16 and 18) that cause 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases, Gardasil protects against two more (numbers six and 11) that cause genital warts.
Genital warts is the UK’s most common sexually transmitted viral infection, affecting perhaps 200,000 people a year. The highest rates are in women aged 16 to 19 and men aged 20 to 24. In the same survey, 93 per cent of the clinicians said they would choose Gardasil, rather than Cervarix, for their own daughter or advise friends to choose it for their daughters.