Author: Winnie Wright
Researchers say the rates of a cancer causing virus are on the decline thanks to vaccinations. In recent years, vaccinations have become a hot-button issue for parents and the HPV vaccine was no exception.
When the CDC began recommending the Human papillomavirus vaccine in 2006, there was a lot of push back from parents. A new study from the CDC says the rates of HPV infection are down 63 percent among girls ages 14 to 19 in the last decade and it credits the HPV vaccination.
The vaccine was very controversial when it hit the main stream 10 years ago, and THV11 wanted to know, have those findings changed parents’ minds about the vaccination?
“I think there was a great fear that the HPV Vaccine was some sort of signal to adolescent girls that sex was safe. And that there would be an increase in sexual activity and promiscuity, and in fact, that’s not happened. We’ve seen sort of the opposite,” explained Dr. Gary Wheeler, CMO for the Arkansas Department of Health.
HPV is most commonly spread through sex. According to the CDC, an estimated 79 million females aged 14-59 are infected with HPV. 14 million new infections are reported in the U.S. each year.
When Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, was introduced in 2006, it was a hard pill for many parents to swallow. The vaccine is especially encouraged for children under the age of 12, because it’s most effective the younger you are. Parents didn’t want to think of their kids as being sexually active at that age.
“I mean, of course nobody likes to think ‘my child is going to be sexually active’, but life happens and just sticking your head in the sand and pretending like it’s never ever going to happen, to me is just somewhat foolish’,” said Kate Bueche, a pro-HPV Vaccine parent.
According to Cancer.gov, virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV.
For Bueche, the subject hits close to home. She survived early stages of cervical cancer and had her daughter vaccinated for HPV, in hopes that she won’t have to go through that same ordeal.
“You get the flu vaccine and you may still get the flu, but why not go ahead and get the vaccine and cut your chances for it.”
But not all parents agree. We asked our THV11 Facebook friends if the CDC’s recent findings changed their opinions of the HPV vaccine. One mother said: “Not anymore. My daughter had the shot and she had a seizure right after.” Another mother said: “Not after reviewing the newest reports of side effects. “One mother even got the shot for her son. She said: “My son took the shots without any adverse side effects. If I had to make the choice again, I would have him take it again.”
Dr. Wheeler says vaccinating men is the next step in lowering the number of HPV infections. Most men who get HPV never develop symptoms, but they can still spread the infection.
“Males are at risk for cancer. They can have HPV-associated genital cancer, and also oral cancers because of sexual practices that would lead to HPV infection.”
The CDC now recommends the HPV vaccine for boys beginning at 11-years-old. There are also talks about including the HPV vaccine in infant vaccines, or even making it mandatory.