Why Is No One Getting the HPV Vaccine?
4:30 pm, January 8th | by Colette McIntyre
A new report released on Monday shows that while overall cancer death rates are down, there are two increasingly prevalent causes of cancer: obesity and human papillomavirus.
The Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, a collaboration effort of the National Cancer Institute, the U.S Centers for Disease Control, the American Cancer Society, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, tracked U.S cancer rates beginning in 1975 and going through 2009. Since 1990, American cancer deaths have been on the decline; the new report shows that from 2000 to 2009 the drop has continued with rates declining 1.8% per year among men and children and 1.4% per year among women.
But, while cancer morality is dropping, the report also noted that obesity and HPV are driving more cancer diagnoses. Data suggests that poor diet and lack of exercise are responsible for more than a third of U.S cancer incidences, including colon, breast and pancreatic cancers. The annual report’s authors warned that as these factors “continue to rise, these cases will contribute to the overall growing number of cancers associated with population aging and expansion, requiring additional resources for medical research and treatment.”
The most surprising part of the study is its separate examination into the rate of HPV immunizations in American girls. Immunization numbers are far lower than the government’s targets: in 2010, less than half of American girls aged thirteen to seventeen had received at least one dose of the vaccine, while a paltry 32 precent had received all three recommended doses. In comparison, the United Kingdom and Australia both boasted immunization rates of more than 70 percent.
According to the CDC, Human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States and the majority of adolescent children are not getting vaccinated before they are sexually active; Virginia and Washington D.C are the only states that require female students to receive the HPC vaccine before attending middle school and high school. Those most vulnerable to HPV and cervical cancer are women living in low socioeconomic areas: cervical cancer rates have declined for all women except American Indian women and Alaska natives, and they remain highest for women without health insurance. Unable to afford gynecological exams, these women go without Pap tests, which screen to catch precancerous cells. As reported by a CDC news release, poor and minority teens who begin the three-dose HPV immunization process have lower rates of completing all three doses. In Alabama and Mississippi, only 20 percent of girls are vaccinated against HPV; the regions also boast the lowest numbers of women who attend regular gynecological exams.
It is clear that access to the HPV vaccine must be expanded; two of the most popular vaccines, Cervarix and Gardasil, successfully protect against most HPV types linked to cervical cancers, Gardasil also being found to combat gentile warts and cancers of the anus, vagina, and vulva. So what do we need to do, change the marketing campaign?
(Sample YouTube comment: “Gardasil has neurotoxic aluminum, sodium borate which is a common cockroach poison, and polysorbate 80 linked to sterility and reproductive deformities in mice.
Why would you pay to have this injected into your daughter?”)
As it turns out, despite health officials almost universally advocating for HPV immunization, various conservative political organizations have pushed against the vaccine, advocating abstinence instead. A bill that proposed making the vaccine free for low-income children but would not mandate it was vetoed by Republican governors; that, coupled with Texas’ move to defund Planned Parenthoods across the state, clinics that are often provide low-income women with their only gynecological care, makes the report’s statistics on the high cervical cancer rate among poor women especially tragic.
[Via The Raw Story]