Saturday, February 17, 2007

Mandatory HPV Vaccine in Ohio?

The ABJ offers a teaser on possible legislation on the issue, including an interview with Sen. Kevin Coughlin, chair of the Senate Health Committee:

    Coughlin (R-Cuyahoga Falls) said several colleagues have indicated they intend to introduce legislation concerning vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) for girls entering the sixth grade.

    Legislation is likely to come in three forms initially: a strict mandate requiring all sixth-grade girls to be vaccinated; a mandate that gives parents the option of choosing not to vaccinate; and a proposal to increase education about HPV, cervical cancer and the vaccine without any strict mandate.

Coincidently, today’s NYT runs a cover story about the effort nationwide to mandate HPV vaccination. Serious campaigns are running in about 20 states with health advocates on one side and a strange bedfellowship of anti-vaccination activists, pharma skeptics and Christian conservatives on the other.

Personally, I think any law has to have an opt-out. I’m leery about any attempt to legislate how people raise their children. Such a law can be justified if it prevents a societal harm – like epidemic contagious diseases like whooping cough. When it comes to protecting the health of the individual, I side with individual choice.

But I like the effort as a whole. Legislation like this moves people toward a tipping point. The legislative debate publicizes the availability of the vaccine, its benefits and limitations and the sound health reasoning behind the recommendation that girls receive the immunization by the time they are twelve. And it gives some societal cover to the uncomfortable (even for a liberal) acknowledgement that your individual daughter might have sexual contact as a young teen.

So a limited endorsement of the effort, provided it gives parents the ability make their own choices.


Paul said...

I agree. It's one thing to require vaccinations when the disease is communicable and deadly (e.g. smallpox), but doesn't seem to rise to that standard.

Jill said...

Well - I agree with Pho on this, but to say that HPVs are communicable and deadly wouldn't be accurate. True - it's not communicable like small pox. HPVs are spread pretty much only through sexual activity. However, cervical cancer kills. When you look at the rate at which unmarried people are having sex, and with how many individuals, and the incidence rate of HPVs, you need recognize how important this vaccine is, particularly to health of women.

I've been through "bad" PAPs and it is a long-term nervewracking experience, even when it turns out that everything is okay. Dysplasia is disconcerting and the anxiety alone is a drag on daily life until it's ruled out as being problematic.

I agree - at this point, I would not support legislation that mandates the HPV. However, as the vaccine continues to be used and more data is collected and analyzed, I reserve the possibility that I might change my mind - though, like Pho - I prefer to let parents make these decisions. That's assuming they can make good decisions for their daughters.

Jill said...

Oops - that first sentence should be, to say that HPVs are NOT communicable or deadly wouldn't be accurate.

Gloria Ferris said...

My daughter's friend had cervical cancer at the age of 19. Cancer at any age is a frightening and life changing event. If we have the means to protect young women through a vaccine, we as a society should do all we can to protect those young women. Individual rights should of course be considered, but it is time for the American Public to face facts although we talk like Puritans, many of us do not act like Puritans. Parents who think that there children are not sexually active at earlier and earlier ages are not being realistic. Look around you at the trends in our society and tell me that we are not objectifying young women. We expect more of our young people than many adults are capable of doing. If we have a means to protect young women, we should by all means do it.

I had a good friend die of testicular cancer when I was eighteen; he was twenty. In 1969, that form of cancer was 87% fatal. Now, people survive that type of cancer and go on to win the Tour d' France. Do young women not deserve the same chances?

I say we move forward with legislation and amend it any way we need to make it acceptable to as many groups as possible because young women deserve to have this vaccine.

Anonymous said...

One major problem with HPV that nobody ever talks about is that when men have it, you normally can't tell. When women have it, you can see the growths. They look like cauliflowers. So young girls, please get the vaccination. IT is the only way to protect yourself from this horrid and very widespread disease. I've had it for twenty years, and because it is incurable, I have not had sexual relations since getting it.

vincent said...

"Are You at Risk for Cancer from HPV?" Author/
Many facts about HPV need to be addressed to enable the public to understand this virus. 1. The virus is very contagious. Having a sexual contact even one time will transfer the virus. 2. The transmission is not limited to sexual contact. The virus can be spread via vertical (Mother to child) and digital (Fingers). 3. The body cancers associated with HPV are not limited to cervical. Other body areas that are almost entirely HPV are vulvar, penile, anal, and many head and neck cancers. 4. When HPV is in the presence of Epstein-Barr, other body cancers are common. Nasal cavity and bladder cancer are two common additional areas. 5. HPV is also associated with some breast cancers -less than 10%. 6. Brain tumors have been found in children often before the age of three. 7. HPV is contagious all of the time unlike some herpes viruses. The HPV creates lesions of the skin even with the subclinical-invisible high risk strains- which allows other viruses to enter. HIV, for example, is difficult to transmit---but not the least bit difficult when an HPV infection is present. 8. One of every four women in the United States will have an hysterectomy some time in their life due primarily to fibroids. But, the second leading cause is the HPV induced cancer being present. Cervix removal, LEEP and conization has reduced the number of hysterectomies due to HPV. 9. The vaccine is a prophylatic vaccine and not a therapeutic vaccine. Young girls can be protected. An issue that many doctors do not want to discuss is that sexual predators have a very good chance of carrying the high risk strains. It is a proven fact that an older male with a younger female-under 17- have a greater chance of developing cancer before the age of 30. Sexual offenders can not be cured. Their action may be partally affected by their HPV infection. 10. HPV is affected by other viruses, diet, soaps, vitamins and hormones. 11. A self test is available that should be a sign to see a doctor. A self test of a girl touching her own cervix with her own finger without pain, is one such test. A self test with vinegar or iodine on a skin infection are capable of detecting invisible HPV infections and the later of a cancer development. A pap smear does not detect HPV only the signs that will lead to carcinoma-in-situ.12. HPV does create warts and cysts that may not be painful to touch and can be invisible. HPV cysts can create a bad smell when the skin of lystic (cell death) is exposed to the open air.

My book can be found in the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and in Westerville Library.

The book is available at Amazon, Borders, Brodart, Powell, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and WalMart.

I have helped to influence people with the means of education about HPV from my town right here in Ohio called Westerville. My book is in the University of Wales and is being sold in New Zealand.