Gardasil and the American religious right

In the latest load of self righteous crap from America’s religious right, conservative political groups are lobbying to block young girls from receiving Gardasil, the Australian developed immunization against human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer. Apparently these primates think that cancer is a lesser evil than sex. Their argument is that by reducing the risk of sexually transmitted disease you encourage sexual activity. A corollary of this argument is that sexually transmitted diseases should be encouraged to discourage sexual activity. Somehow I find this hard to swallow. Why here’s an idea, perhaps we can immunize people against having sex by giving them HIV? I imagine that would be very effective.

3 thoughts on “Gardasil and the American religious right”

  1. Despite the idiotic rhetoric of conservative nuts, there are a lot of good medical reasons to wait before mandating a vaccine that was approved less than a year ago based on only two years of clinical results.

    For example, the most recently release clinical results are very disappointing.

    To summarize this published medical journal article:

    1. In the FUTURE I trial, GARDASIL demonstrated no clinical efficacy among the general subject population for overall reduction in the rates of grade 2 and grade 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and adenocarcinoma — the only recognized precursors to cervical cancer.

    2. In the larger FUTURE II trial, GARDASIL demonstrated no clinical efficacy among the general subject population for overall reduction in the rates of grade 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and adenocarcinoma — the strongest (and many would argue only valid) precursors to cervical cancer.

    3. Extrapolating from GARDASIL’s very limited clinical “success” (in the FUTURE II study only) against grade 2 cervical dysplasias (40% of which regress spontaneously), 129 women would be have to be vaccinated (at a cost of about $60,000) to prevent a single grade 2 cervical dysplasia.

    4. GARDASIL’s protection against cancer associated HPV strains 16 and 18 appears to cause a disproportionate increase in of pre-cancerous dysplasias associated with other HPV strains associated with cervical cancer “raising the possibility that other oncogenic HPV types eventually filled the biologic niche left behind after the elimination of HPV types 16 and 18.”

    5. Even if look only at the FUTURE II results (in which for some reason GARDASIL performed better among the general female population), we are talking about just a 17% decrease in all high grade dysplasias — many of which would spontaneously regress without treatment. So we would have vaccinate 129 women (at about $500 for the three shot regimen) to avoid a single, eminently treatable dysplasia. That’s about $60,000 per dysplasia prevented.

    This is all directly from the article linked above.

    I myself would add that we currently have only 3 years of follow up to go on in terms of both GARDASIL’s safety and efficacy among the 16 to 26 year female population, no data concerning its efficacy among 9 to 12 year old girls and only 18 months of follow up on less than 600 total preteen girls in terms of safety data about GARDASIL within its targeted population.

    Also see : The Journal of the American Medical Association and The Wall Street Journal

    It appears that the vaccinated cohort sees a 20%+ increase in high grade cervical dysplasias caused by cancer-associated HPV strains other than HPV 16 and 18. One possible explanation is that HPV 6 or HPV 11 infections are antagonistic to more dangerous HPV infections.

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