There continue to be concerns about the safety of the Gardasil vaccine being widely promoted for prevention of human papilloma virus or HPV. Human papilloma virus is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and has been associated with an increased risk cervical cancer in women. Over thirty thousand women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and the vaccine has been marketed as a means to reduce the incidence of this relatively common form of cancer. But what about Gardasil vaccine risks? Are the HPV vaccination benefits worth it?
What is HPV and why is a vaccination needed for this virus? HPV is a group of sexually transmitted viruses that can manifest with genital warts, but frequently cause no symptoms at all. In some cases, when a woman is infected with HPV she first learns of it after changes are seen on a routine PAP smear. Although some people will develop no symptoms at all with HPV, certain sub-types of the HPV virus can increase the risk of cervical cancer. Men are also not immune to the effects of HPV. Not only can they get genital warts from being infected with the virus, it can also increase their risk of developing cancer of the penis.
Because of the serious nature of cervical cancer if not detected early, the HPV vaccination is being promoted by doctors despite the well known Gardasil vaccine risks. There have been reports of blood clot formation, coma, shock, seizures, and even death after women have received the HPV vaccination. The Washington group Judicial Watch has been reporting on the frequency of complications with this vaccine and have noted eighteen deaths and 140 serious complications related to the vaccine. They are working to make people more aware of Gardasil vaccine risks especially young girls for whom some believe it should be mandatory. There are also issues about the vaccine’s effectiveness. It appears that over a four to five year period the protective effect of the vaccine declines. In addition, the HPV vaccination doesn’t protect against all of the types of HPV that are associated with cervical cancer.
Interestingly, the Center for Disease Control reports that in ninety percent of cases of infection with HPV, the infection is completely cleared by the immune system over a two to three year period and will not cause any problems. In addition, the PAP smear serves as an excellent screening test for detecting and following HPV and monitoring for early changes associated with cervical cancer.
Should you encourage your daughter to get the HPV vaccination? Because the current Gardasil vaccine doesn’t protect against all strains of HPV, doesn’t necessarily give long lasting protection, and the known Gardasil vaccine risks, it may not be the best choice in its current form. Getting the vaccine may give some women a false sense of security which can reduce the resolve to get regular PAP smears. Whether or not the Gardasil vaccine is given to prevent HPV, keep in mind that regular PAP smears are important for detecting early changes suggestive of cervical cancer. Be sure to discuss the pros and cons of getting this vaccine with your doctor.