Tests show HPV vaccine effective and necessary

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Re: “Government wrong to push human papillomavirus vaccine”
Jan. 23, 2008

To the editor:
HPV causes genital warts, is very contagious and is now one of the most common STIs in the world. Symptoms may not appear for months after exposure to the virus. Some people never get symptoms, even though they carry the virus and can infect sexual partners. Certain types of HPV are a significant indicator for predicting cervical cancer in women.

Cervical cancer is preventable. The most effective approach to eradicating it is Cancer Care Ontario’s recommendation for cervical cancer screening. This is accomplished through regular Pap tests and recommended vaccinations.

To clarify, Gardasil (the HPV vaccine) prevents two HPV types that cause up to 70 per cent of cervical cancers, as well as two types that cause genital warts. The vaccine is most effective when given before the onset of sexual activity, thus giving a rationale for the Ontario school-based inoculation program for Grade 8 females. Gardasil is also effective for women up to 26 years of age.

On Oct. 5, 2007, Cancer Care Ontario stated: “Gardasil has been extensively tested for five years in international studies involving over 20,000 women. The vaccine has passed the same rigorous evaluation process required of all new drugs in Canada.”

As a fourth-year public health nursing student, I believe in an upstream approach that includes promoting health and preventing disease. There is no better situation where an old saying is more appropriate: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
"Lindsay Holmes
B.Sc in Nursing

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