HPV and Cervical CancerCervical cancer is the third most common cancer overall and the leading cause of death from cancer among women in developing countries. At least 370,000 new cases are identified each year; 80 percent are in developing countries. In the United States about 14,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer disease each year and more than 3,900 women die in the USA each year from this disease.
The Human Pailloma Virus(HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the US, and is thought to cause up to 70 percent of cervical cancers.
HPV VaccineTwo companies have developed and are testing HPV vaccines, and the clinical studies are showing very positive results. GlaxoSmithKline reported that its vaccine had prevented 90 per cent of new infections and all persistent infections. The US based firm Merck has announced similar results for their vaccine which covers the same two HPV strains as the GlaxoSmithKline vaccine, plus two strains that cause genital warts. Both companies plan to submit their products for FDA approval in the US.
Controversy About the HPV VaccineWhile this sounds like nothing but good news, no sooner had the positive clinical results been announced than conservative Christian groups began to speak out against the experimental vaccines, suggesting they may oppose use of the vaccine because it could be seen to be promoting promiscuity. Vaccinations would have to be done to young women and men before they are sexually active, and because HPV is primarily a sexually transmitted virus, these conservative groups argue it would be a message condoning promiscuous sexual activity.
In other quarters, groups concerned with women's health in particular, and the ways that new vaccines and other drugs get approved for use, worried that there was not enough long term data on the vaccine, and cautioned against making the vaccinations mandatory.
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