HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S. A press release published last June on the official FDA web site states that about 6.2 million Americans become infected with genital HPV each year, and over half of all sexually active women and men become infected with HPV at sometime in their lives.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states:
Genital HPV infection is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). Human papillomavirus is the name of a group of viruses that includes more than 100 different strains or types. More than 30 of these viruses are sexually transmitted, and they can infect the genital area of men and women including the skin of the penis, vulva (area outside the vagina), or anus, and the linings of the vagina, cervix, or rectum. Most people who become infected with HPV will not have any symptoms and will clear the infection on their own.
A vaccine is now available called Gardasil, manufactured by Merck which is designed to immunize against certain sexually transmitted diseases, such as cervical cancer and genital warts, which are caused by HPV. It’s the only HPV vaccine currently on the market, with a second vaccine, Cervarix, currently in clinical trials. According to Harvard Medical center, Gardasil, protects against 4 HPV types which together cause 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts.
Merck was funding efforts to pass state laws that would require girls as young as 11 to be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted cervical-cancer virus, but recently suspended its lobbying campaign because of pressure from parents and medical groups. Some conservative groups argued that this requirement would encourage premarital sex and interfere with parents’ rights.[my emphasis]
Merck has funneled money to Women in Government, an advocacy group made up of female state legislators around the country, and a top official from Merck’s vaccine division sits on Women in Government’s business council.
Texas Governor Rick Perry recently made his state the first in the union to mandate that all girls entering sixth grade receive the HPV vaccine. At least 18 states are debating whether or not to make Merck’s vaccine Gardasil mandatory for schoolgirls. Many of these bills have been introduced by members of Women in Government.
Instinctively, I want to encourage my daughter, who is a young adult, to have this vaccination since HPV is so prevalent in our society and those infected are growing in numbers rapidly. But, concerning 11-year-old schoolgirls the question is, should this vaccine be government mandated, or should the decision be left up to the parents?Here is a recent CNN segment concerning this controversy.