HPV or human papilloma virus vaccines have been available now for a number of years. Recent polls have uncovered the fact that parents are more likely to support the use of HPV vaccines, but only if they are given the option to not take part in them. It seems like a paradox. Parents are okay with HPV vaccines, but they don’t want to be required to utilize them on their children.
So why should or shouldn’t parents want to use the HPV vaccine?
If parents decide not to use the HPV vaccines, their children are susceptible to cancers caused by HPV. The most common cancer that is associated with HPV is cervical cancer, however, HPV can also cause vulvar, penile, throat, anal, neck and vaginal cancers as well. HPV vaccines have been found to be extremely effective in preventing over 90 percent of anal cancers, almost three-quarters of neck and throat cancers, and the majority of penile, vulvar and vaginal cancers. The statistics surrounding cervical cancer in the United States are pretty astounding. Each year, over 12,000 women are diagnosed with the disease, and about a third of those women who are diagnosed die from it.
HPV is spread from one individual to another by skin on skin contact during sexual activity. In fact, many individuals will likely contract HPV at some point during their lifetime but won’t actually realize it because a majority of HPV types won’t lead to any adverse symptoms. There are other forms of HPV, however, that could lead to cancer, or at the very least, genital warts. While not fatal, genital warts are a genuine nuisance that can cause extreme discomfort and emotional stress via social stigma. The numbers of people in the United States that are already infected with HPV is almost 80 million, with an additional 14 million acquiring HPV each year.
The debate about whether or not HPV vaccines should be mandatory originated with laws passed in Rhode Island, the District of Columbia and Virginia. The link was made by those opposing the mandatory HPV vaccine laws by protesters that giving kids the HPV vaccine was in effect giving them the green light to have sex. In response, those in favor of the HPV vaccine say that the vaccine is most effective when it is given to an individual before they have contracted any sort of HPV. Scientists say, however, that even if persons missed out on the HPV vaccine as a child, it is still very beneficial to get it. However, the vaccine holds little benefit for those that are over 26 years-old.
The idea that the HPV vaccine gives kids a reason to have sex isn’t the only objection that parents have to the HPV vaccine. Vaccines in general have been under a barrage of attacks over the past few decades, with protesters claiming they cause autism and other auto-immune disorders, though these claims have little actual evidence to back them up. But experts disagree. They say that HPV vaccines have been tested on thousands of people from all over the world before being approved and are completely safe. There have been no side effects in coordination with the administration of the HPV vaccines though it can sometimes cause limited nausea, dizziness, fever and redness at the injection site. Experts cite, however, that these minor symptoms are evident in almost all vaccines.
There are currently three HPV vaccines available in the United States. Gardasil, Gardasil 9 and Cervarix are all given in three rounds of shots. The second HPV vaccine shot is given a month or so after the first, and the third HPV vaccine shot is given six months after the second.
HPV vaccines are clearly beneficial, but should parents be required under law to give them to their children? What do you think? Would you give your kids the HPV vaccine?
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