Gardasil is a HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccine. The most common sexually transmitted infection globally, HPV often causes no symptoms and resolves spontaneously. However, it can lead to warts and precancerous lesions which increase the likelihood of cancer of the vulva, cervix, vagina, penis, anus, mouth or throat. A new experimental vaccine called Gardasil is being developed against 4 types of HPV, 2 of which are thought to cause 70% of cervical cancers. HPV is present in up to 80% of people by the time they are 50, and it rarely develops into cancer. So cancer will only develop if the person is already in a state of dis-ease.

‘HPV, by itself, does not kill anyone. According to the Daily, 5,000 people die of HPV each year. However, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), this is the number of women who die from cervical cancer in the United States. Also, there are over 100 strains of HPV, 30 of which are transmitted sexually, and only two of which are pre-cancerous. It is only those two strains that are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer….but that rate for cancer is actually very low.’ ( Letter to the Stanford Daily, February 10, 2006).

What Is VIN?

VIN (Vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia) is a condition affecting the skin of the vulva, which can disappear without treatment but sometimes develops into vulval cancer. As a woman who has suffered since the age of 12 with a vulval pain syndrome, I myself was recently suspected of having VIN. According to the Vulval Pain Society, ‘We use the word pre-cancer, NOT because the cells are cancerous or you have cancer, but because the cells MAY (or MAY NOT) develop into cancer over a period of years. The exact relationship between VIN and vulval cancer remains unknown because so few studies have been done.

The most common form of treatment for this is to do nothing and wait and see, as most people with abnormal findings do not develop cancer. It hardly seems worth having a vaccine, with these incredibly low risks.

The cancer vaccine that GIVES you cancer

The new vaccine was tested on both males and females, but is expected to be used primarily against cervical cancer. Five women involved in the tests, gave birth to children with birth defects, as they were vaccinated near to conception of their babies. The plan is to vaccinate girls aged 9 to 12 who are not yet sexually active, but the FDA is also considering recommendations of whether to give the vaccine to 13-26 year old’s. If the vaccine is given to this age group, there is no guarantee that should a pregnancy occur, the foetus would not develop birth defects and abnormalities.

There have also been no long term studies into fertility and whether or not vaccinating young girls with HPV would have any affect on their future ability to have children. Another concern the FDA have is that the vaccine may pre-dispose women to cancer if they already have traces of HPV in their body (as most people do!).

Also, the vaccine is only meant for 4 types of HPV, and there are many other types the vaccine does not cover, which can still cause disease. I can imagine this being a useful excuse for doctors in the event of vaccine caused cancer. They could simply say that the jab didn’t protect against the strain of cancer you’ve got, rather than admitting the jab had pre-disposed you to getting it.

Contraindications (reasons you should not have the vaccine)

Who should not receive the HPV vaccine? Anyone who is allergic to any components of the vaccine, or has an allergic reaction after getting a dose of the vaccine.

It is very important that patients let their provider know if they have had any of the following before receiving the HPV vaccine:

  • allergic reaction to the vaccine
  • bleeding disorder such that the patient cannot receive vaccines in the arm
  • weakened immune system
  • pregnant or planning pregnancy
  • current illness with a fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit

Does the Vaccine Even Work?

As well as heightening the risk of cancer in women with HPV already present in their bodies, the CDC say that tests show the vaccine will ‘protect’ for just 4 years. No long-term results are known yet. This means repeat doses will be needed regularly throughout adult life. The initial vaccination is also not just one shot, but three, given over a period of 6 months, so this whole course would have to be done again after the 4 years was up.

The CDC state that:

‘The vaccine only prevents infection but cannot prevent the disease once a person is already infected. They urged women to remain vigilant. “The vaccine should not take the place of a yearly exam and pap smear,”

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