HPV Debate Continues

By: Heather Haley Email
By: Heather Haley Email

The debate of whether or not HPV vaccines should be mandatory is ongoing amongst politicians and residents across the Commonwealth. One local woman is concerned about the relatively new vaccine.

Patricia Shackleford said when the advertisements began for the new HPV vaccine Gardasil, her questions and concerns also began.

"There are over a hundred forms of HPV and the vaccine actually contains four strains of HPV, two that are able to cause cervical cancer," Shackleford said.

Shackleford is worried the drug is too new for the state to make mandatory for teenage girls and says she has serious concerns for safety despite FDA approval.

"We have to put our trust in the FDA in terms of having thoroughly investigated the vaccine before they put it on the market to the public," said John Cain with the Perry County Cancer Coalition.

Cain says the main two types of HPV cause nearly 70% of the cervical cancer cases.

"You could potentially save hundreds if not thousands of lives from cervical cancer verses a handful of people that may develop adverse events to the HPV vaccine," Cain said.

Cain says Eastern Kentucky has some of the highest cervical cancer rates, but says a simple exam could also help rates.

"We have some of the highest rates of women who do not get annual pap testing, which is the most recommended tool for the early detection of cervical cancer," Cain says.

"There is no public group or politician who currently lobbies for regular pap testing in sexually active teenage girls," Shackleford said.

Both Cain and Shackleford agree parents should have the option of giving their daughter the HPV vaccine. Shackleford says she hopes parents will do their research before deciding whether or not to give their daughter the HPV vaccine.

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