So let’s start with the basics:
HPV is a sexually transmitted infection that is known for its prevalence, since it effects over half of all sexually active people. Yet, even though it occurs quite frequently, few people become symptomatic. There are a few strains of HPV that can be harmful (16, 18, 6, and 11), yet most people who contract these strains are able to clear it up on their own with a healthy immune system. In the event that a person contracts one of these high risk strains, the symptoms can more serious. HPV strains 6 and 11 are responsible for 90% of genital warts and strains 16 and 18 are responsible for 70% of cervical cancers. Gardasil is believed to protect against these four high risk strains, with nearly a 100% success rate. Gardasil has also brought these issues of HPV and cervical cancer into the mainstream. Before Gardasil, few knew what HPV was or that it caused cervical cancer. Gardasil has had an amazing marketing campaign with tons of commercials, facebook groups, text message reminders and other promotions.
-So, yes, Gardasil is believed to be nearly 100% effective, but its clinical trials only lasted a total of 5 years. Cervical cancer on the other hand takes many years to develop, so it’s impossible to really gauge efficacy after such a short time.
-Also, after the implementation of the Pap smear the rates of cervical cancer dropped 75%. Most women who are in the remaining 25% who are still affected by cervical cancer do not have access to health care services like Pap smears, and it is impoverished women who are most impacted by HPV and cervical cancer.
-Gardasil is also so new that few know of the future side effects, as well as how long it will last. The shot comes in three doses and it is unknown if there will be a need for booster shots.
Why, if the Pap smear has reduced cervical cancers in such drastic ways, should we mandate something that is still in its experimental stages and which may or may not prevent against it?
Think about it.
This Zine is a great resource to read more, as well as doing personal research!