HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

HPV Update

Yesterday's Science Times ran an article discussing the benefits of the HPV vaccine.  It states some of the benefits as follows:

¶That infections with human papillomavirus, or HPV, are the most common sexually transmitted diseases?

¶That there is no treatment for HPV infections?

¶That cervical cancer is the most serious sexually transmitted disease caused by this virus?

¶That 70 percent of cases of cervical cancer arise because of two variants of the virus that the new vaccine protects against?

¶ That 90 percent of genital warts cases are caused by two other variants of the virus that are countered by the vaccine?

¶That most people infected with HPV do not know it, yet can transmit the virus to an unsuspecting sexual partner?

¶That 20 percent of American girls 14 to 19 are infected, and the vaccine works only if administered before women contract the viral variants it is intended to prevent?

The article also raised the equity issue, about which I had been wondering (I mean, really, why only girls?).  It states,

In the name of equality, some advocates urge that boys, too, be immunized, because they spread the infection to women. In fact, men may benefit directly from the vaccine, because the virus can also cause cancers of the penis and anus. Anal cancer is a particular concern to gay men, and a study is under way to determine whether the new vaccine will protect gay men from cancer.

Last week, the New York Times ran an article discussing different ways that states are encouraging individuals to get the vaccine.  The article discusses how successful New Hampshire has been with its program of making the vaccine voluntary, as well as giving it free to girls and young women ages 11-18.  New Hampshire has not suffered the backlash that other states, which mandated the vaccine, have seen.

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