The pharmaceutical organization Merck & Co. recently announced its intention to fight for state laws that would require girls as young as 11 or 12 to take the drugmaker’s new vaccine that can prevent the sexually transmitted cervical-cancer virus, HPV.
While the issue is critical, especially among college-aged women, a state law is not in the best interest of females.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases with over 100 different contractible strains. It afflicts both men and women alike. The more severe “high-risk” strains of HPV frequently cause cancer of cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, or penis. Over 50 percent of sexually active adults will contract HPV throughout their lifetime. By age 50, 80 percent of women will have contracted HPV.
The good news: There’s a vaccine. Recently released to the public after FDA approval, the HPV vaccine can be administered to females from ages 11 to 26. It prevents over 40 strains (the most common and dangerous of the diseases) and potentially the cancers related to the virus. For now, it is only FDA-approved for females, but studies are being conducted at the Medical College of Georgia testing the vaccine on young males.
With over 13,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer a year, something must be done. It’s such a privilege to have easy access to advanced medical treatment that it would be irresponsible to turn our cheeks to such a resource.
A mandatory law is not the answer because it would suppress both parental and individual control. Perhaps a campaign focused on promotion and education of the vaccine would be more sensible.
If pharmaceutical companies had the public’s best interest in mind, they would devote their time and money in a more appropriate way regarding the vaccine. After all, the rights of men and women are much more important than profits big businesses make from drug sales.