Human papillomavirus: opinion on girls/boys receiving HPV vaccine in grade 5
Free fall writing by: Georgia Doonanco
If you have a child who is at least 9 years old, you may be weighing whether he or she should get vaccinated against human papillomavirus, also referred to HPV. The cervix is the end of the uterus that joins the uterus with the vagina and is very susceptible to cancer. Almost every person who is sexually active will get HPV at some time in their life without HPV vaccination. About 14 million Americans, including teens, become infected with HPV each year. While most HPV infections will go away on their own, infections that don’t go away can cause certain types of cancer. HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. Men and women can carry it. HPV sometimes plays a role in other cancers as well, including cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and throat. From research i have learned that there are two HPV vaccines: ‘Gardasil’ and ‘Cervarix’. ‘Gardasil’, which protects against four HPV types (6, 11, 16, and 18), is for use by females aged 9-26 to help prevent cancer of the cervix, vagina, and vulva; genital warts, and anal cancer. It's also approved for males aged 9-26 to help prevent genital warts and anal cancer. Consequently, ‘Cervarix’ targets HPV types 16 and 18 (types 16 and 18 are responsible for 65% of cases of cervical cancer). It's approved for females aged 10-25 to help prevent cervical cancer. HPV infections and cervical precancers (abnormal cells on the cervix that can lead to cancer) have dropped significantly since the vaccine has been in use. HPV types that cause most HPV cancers and genital warts have dropped 71% among teen girls. Among vaccinated women, the percentage of cervical precancers caused by the HPV types most often linked to cervical cancer dropped by 40%.
Now concerning the idea of receiving the vaccine by grade 5, the HPV vaccine is most effective when the complete series is conducted at a young age. There are several reasons for this. First, it’s best to get vaccinated before exposure, so the best time would be before any sexual activity begins. Statistics show that some children, even as young as 12, have already had sexual encounters that can put them at risk of HPV infection. Cervical cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in women in the world and the HPV vaccine is 83% effective in preventing the spread of HPV in women who had never come in contact with the virus but only 53% effective for those who had previous contact with it. Secondly, studies indicate that the vaccine alsoo produces a greater immune response with a higher antibody count to fight infection when given at a younger age.
The idea of letting your child get the vaccine at a young age arose some economical, ethical and societal issues, however these veiws contradict with what is logical and true and has be argued and supported by science facts. For example, some parents have expressed concern that vaccinating a child may make them believe they have permission to have sex. In light of clinical evidence, the parents unwillingness to accept the vaccination based on the belief that their child will never be infected with HPV, or that administering this vaccine will increase the likelihood of early sexual activity. Both of these ideas are demonstrably not true. Proven by statistics the lifetime likelihood of infection with some strain of HPV is greater than 80% for women and greater than 90% for men. Trying to predict which children will someday become infected with HPV is guaranteed to result in many missed cases and missed opportunities for protection. A 2012 study examined outcomes for girls who received the vaccine and girls who did not receive the vaccine. the research indicated that HPV vaccination has had no notable difference in the stats of sexual activity as said earlier. In other words, the vaccine does not appear to be changing sexual behaviors, only protecting those who will eventually engage in them. To date there has been no significant differences in pregnancies, counseling on contraceptive, and testing and diagnosis of other sexually transmitted infections.
Another opposing source can be the religious society. From previously attending Notre Dame Catholic High School i know that Catholic tradition teaches that sex is a gift for married people that should be used responsibly and lovingly. It considers any sexual activity outside of marriage to be sinful. Treating the gift of sexuality with respect will allow faithful people to avoid some negative outcomes, including premarital pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. However, not all Christian communities oppose. Some agree that the fact that HPV is spread primarily by sexual contact does not give vaccination against it unethical. Healing and preventing diseases, no matter what their source, are acts of mercy and a moral good. Prevention of HPV infection is distinct from, and should not be interpreted as encouraging, the behavior by which HPV is spread. To add, most people including me are surprised to learn that HPV transmission is not just limited to vaginal or anal sex. HPV can also be transmitted through intimate skin to skin contact. In fact, one study shows that HPV was detected in 46% of females prior to first vaginal sex. Based on this information, it’s possible that a person can become infected during their first sexual encounter, even if that encounter doesn’t involve vaginal sex. This is why abstinence until marriage isn’t necessarily effective in preventing the HPV infection. It's said that even having one lifetime sex partner doesn’t necessarily eliminate the risk. There’s no guarantee a partner, even if it’s your first or only partner, hasn’t already been infected.
Economic issues for families in the US was greatly affected by the cost effectiveness of cervical immunizations but the HPV immunization costs in older females and males in Canada has not yet been evaluated. Researchers conducted a study for the cost of screening and immunization. They found that adding ‘catch-up’ immunization to the current program would be more cost-effective, and that combining ‘catch-up’ immunization with delaying the age at which vaccination is first used could result in cost savings and health gains. In other words, it’s more cost effective and health effective to get the vaccine when younger than paying for ‘catch-up’ vaccines when your older.
As for my personal viewpoint, If there's any chance of reducing cancer, why wouldn't you try it? That is my bottom line. Giving the HPV vaccine is not an approval of sexual activity or a prediction of future high-risk behavior; it’s being sensible. As a Christian myself, I would encourage Christian parents to consider the HPV vaccine as a simple, safe and effective method of keeping HPV associated cancer from ever being a part of their children’s story. You can tell your child that these vaccines can help keep him or her healthy and prevent cancer and other illnesses later in life. If they do decide to talk to your child about HPV and the vaccine, it doesn't mean they’re giving their child permission to have sex. Instead, it's a chance to teach your child about safer sex and sexually transmitted infections. This information will be important for when they are older and making choices about sex. And to add hard evidence, the studies proved that girls who get the HPV vaccine are no more likely to have unsafe sex than girls who did not get the vaccine. And given the reality of reocurring premarital sex and infection with HPV, is it really ethical to allow children to fight against helping to prevent any disease? I think not. Why would anyone oppose a vaccine which has a proven record of cancer prevention? In conclusion, i completely stand by and support the act of giving boys and girls in grade 5 the HPV vaccine.