HPV Vaccines

640 words | 3 page(s)

Cervical cancer is now the second most common cancer occurring in women and is the fifth most prevalent cause of death (Bosch, et al, 1995). Human papilloma virus (HPV) has been detected in approximately 93% of all tumors, with little variation among different geographic locations around the world (Bosch, et al, 1995). In response, a vaccine was developed that targets the most common forms of the virus associated with the formation of genital warts and cervical cancer. However, acceptance and use of the vaccine by the general public has not hit the expected targets. This research explores the controversy surrounding the HPV vaccine.

Nearly 20 different types of HPV have been associated with genital warts and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, which is a condition that can eventually progress to become cervical cancer (Walboomers, et al, 1999). When it comes to cervical cancers, a majority of them involve HPV, but a small percentage do not. The number of cervical cancer cases that are connected to HPV is much more significant than the small fraction that is not. With this connection to HPV, one would suspect that an HPV vaccine would be welcome and widely accepted by the public, but this is not the case.

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HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. Most infections are successfully treated within one year. After successful treatment, the person is then immune to that strain. It is possible that some erroneously think that this means they are immune to all HPV strains, but this is not the case. They can still contract the other strains that are associated with cervical cancer and genital warts. The vaccine was designed to protect against the more common strains of HPV that have been linked to cervical cancer.

The vaccine itself has demonstrated to be safe and able to guard against the intended strains of HPV. Two different vaccines are available. The first is Gardasil and the second is Cervarix. Both are FDA approved and have been in use for over a decade. They have an established safety record and there is no evidence that either of them has been linked to death, blood clots, or cognitive impairment (Intlekofer, et al, 2012). They have proven to be safe and effective in guarding against the types of HPV virus for which they were intended.

Several barriers contribute to a lack of acceptance of HPV vaccines among the public. Many people do not consider themselves to be high enough risk for contracting HPV, and therefore, do not get the vaccine (Intlekofer, et al, 2012). The vaccine is administered in a series of three shots. Concerns over cost and the challenge of completing the entire vaccine series represent other reasons for a low acceptance of the vaccine. In addition, there are public concerns about vaccines in general, even though many of these concerns are unfounded. In addition, there been erroneous claims that link the vaccine to mental retardation (Intlekofer, et al, 2012).

In conclusion, the HPV vaccine has proven to be safe and effective in preventing the strains of HPV virus that are connected to the development of cervical cancer. Both vaccines available have a good track record in terms of safety and efficacy. However, public acceptance of the vaccine has been low due to unfounded concerns. As result, one could expect that the rates of cervical cancer will continue to be a global concern for women. Tackling the cervical cancer epidemic means challenging the concerns of women who are basing their decision on unfounded claims. Developing an effective vaccine is only half of the equation. It will do little good if people do not accept it and take it. This is the key challenge facing those who are on the forefront of fighting the most common cause of cervical cancer. The ability to combat this disease means overcoming the challenges that prevent women from getting it.

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