GardasilToday the Advisory on Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has advised against the routine use of the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) in boys and men. This should have been met with fireworks, pomp and jubilation in the streets by those who are against vaccines.  Afterall, one of their favorite gambits to run is how the whole pharmaceutical, vaccine and medical industry is in cahoots to poison society with their deadly cocktail of vaccines.

A major organization has decided that it is not efficacious to distribute the vaccine wholesale through the male population but there is not widespread jubilation through the anti-vax community.  Shouldn’t the decleration that an organization this large is breaking from the conspiracy to injure and sterilize us all be a major coup for those wingnuts? Or maybe they know deep down in their hearts that there is science behind the vaccines and if they acknowledge that an advisory committee recommended against widespread use of a vaccine it would throw their whackaloon conspiracy theories out the window.

I haven’t looked through much of the evidence to determine the cost-effectiveness but the BMJ article seems to have some pretty sound minds behind it.  You sure won’t find the whackaloons touting how a government agency charged with researching the effectiveness of vaccines has determined that this one does not hold a great enough benefit to be widely distributed to males because this destroys their crackpot theories.  I bet we do see a bunch of comments circling the  “AHIP said this vaccine doesn’t work and doesn’t protect against HPV.”  Of course that’s not at all what the decleration or science on the vaccine says, but things like facts and sound judgements aren’t usually a tool used by these people.

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HPV Safety
One of my favorite places on the internet, the Information is Beautiful Blog, has put up a great graphic about the safety of the HPV vaccine. If you are a visual person (that means everyone) then head over to check out the full version of this graphic which displays the risk of vaccine injury from Gardasil, the HPV vaccine in the US.

With all the kookiness that surrounds the vaccine debate it is nice to see some easily translatable information available to the public and David is usually in the lead with putting together great visuals just for this purpose, to make a visual impact out of the data.

If you’re interested in the HPV vaccine, vaccine safety in general, or how to make stunning visuals that easily and poignantly convey information then it is a must that you head over to the site and browse around.

Lesion in human cervical epithelium infected with human  papilloma virus (HPV16). Early viral proteins (green) bind to and re-orgainse the ketatin filaments (red) towards the edge of the cell. Via Wellcome Images

Lesion in human cervical epithelium infected with human papilloma virus (HPV16). Early viral proteins (green) bind to and re-orgainse the ketatin filaments (red) towards the edge of the cell. Via Wellcome Images

I remember when Texas Governor Rick Perry decided to make it mandatory for 11 and 12 year old girls to receive the Gardasil HPV vaccine. It caused a huge ruckus throughout the state mainly from the Libertarians and conservative Christians. Needless to say, there are enough Christians in the state to make a pretty big scene and Gov. Perry was under some hot water with this decision.

Gardasil is a quadrivalent vaccine, meaning it can protect against 4 different types of HPV infections (types 6, 11, 16, and 18) which cause somewhere around 70% of all cervical cancers. These strains have also been shown to cause vulvar, vaginal, penile and anal (a big one to worry about in the gay male community) cancers and an estimated 6.2 million people a year are newly infected. The vaccine has proven to be highly effective and the largest clinical trial was halted because it was decided to be ethically wrong to be giving girls the placebo instead of the actual treatment due to such successful results. Currently the WHO lists cervical cancer as the 5th leading cause of death in women around the world.

The religious right has decided that mandatory vaccination will lead to adolescent females having more sex, have more unsafe sex, and it will generally promote a lax view towards sex in the pre-teen and early teen population. I’m not going to address why this belief is ridiculous (maybe we should outlaw condoms as well?) because most (more…)