Cervical Cancer / HPV, Vaccines and the RH Bill

It’s difficult to ignore, if not downright impossible, all this talk lately about cervical cancer, HPV and Cervarix/Gardasil, a vaccine that’s currently being heavily promoted in the Philippines. Particularly because two of the loudest voices telling women to vaccinate are RH bill proponents, this is an issue about which people on both sides of the debate should be informed.

Rina Jimenez-David’s defense of HPV vaccine inventor Ian Frazer is cute, but in no way touches on the pros and cons of the vaccine. The piece is misplaced hero worship and irresponsible reporting at best, dangerous and misleading disinformation at worst. Gushing accounts of Frazer’s accomplishments and future plans can hardly be adequate data for women deciding whether to get this vaccine or not. Parents equally need to be aware of the risk-benefit ratio if they are to have their daughters vaccinated. Jimenez-David asked Ian Frazer about the autism-vaccination link, but conveniently neglected to ask whether there are other health issues people need to consider prior to vaccination. In her other article on HPV, she focuses on the costs of “the golden standard” (Pap smears) versus the cost of the vaccine. Does she mention anything about risk factors? No. Just like her support of the RH bill, the attention is directed towards a quick fix, without a corresponding evaluation of real need or long-term implications.

Pia Magalona, on the other hand, along with her daughter Maxene are spokespeople for Cervarix. Magalona is slated to participate in the RH bill debate on GMA 7, to be taped today, May 17th, and aired on May 22. Since the HPV vaccine is an important part of her advocacy, her stance on the RH bill is worth scrutinizing. The future of Filipino women’s health hangs in the balance, as RH proponents are fond of saying. It behooves us then, we who will be the subjects of this great experiment, to carefully examine what they’ve said and what they haven’t.

One can’t help but wonder at the seemingly complete and unquestioning trust for US systems that unfortunately don’t deserve such adulation. Pro-RH comments on Facebook pages, Twitter, blogs and places online and off exhibit a wanton disregard (or is it ignorance?) of how big pharmaceuticals and the US FDA work. The consensus among RH bill fans seems to be that if a drug is prescribed by a doctor and approved by a governing body such as the FDA, there exists no reason to question its safety and reliability, and all negative opining should immediately be put to rest.

The FDA doesn’t exactly regulate the pharmaceutical industry — the opposite is probably closer to the truth. Private lawsuits against big pharma are banned, once the drugs have been approved by the FDA. This puts the consumer at a distinct disadvantage, forced to take the FDA’s “expert” judgment on whether a drug is safe or not as gospel. Moreover, the FDA has sole authority in deciding what goes on drug labels, including indications and contra-indications, risks and benefits. This position leaves much room for abuse. Due diligence that should be part of this process is no longer a given.

As AAJ President Ken Suggs put it in 2006,

“The fact that the drug industry can get the FDA to rewrite the rules so that CEOs can escape accountability for putting dangerous and deadly drugs on the market is the scariest example yet of how much control these big corporations have over our political process.”

The FDA’s long list of recalls upon recalls doesn’t seem to be a cause for alarm in certain circles. Which begs the question, if RH bill proponents are ignorant about, or deliberately withholding vital information such as this from the public, where’s the assurance that our poor will be given ample knowledge before they are coerced to undergo these measures? Over-prescribing unnecessary medication is itself a disease in the United States. This propensity towards quick fixes in the form of pills or biologics such as vaccines has led to even more menacing problems. One example is MRSA, brought about by the medical field’s laxity and over-dependence on antibiotics.

This is not to say that all doctors can’t be trusted. Neither are we saying that anything approved by the FDA should be looked at with suspicion (though it may indeed be wiser to err on the side of caution). In simplest terms, a stamp of approval from the US FDA is meaningless. We need to take responsibility for our children’s health and our own, and do the legwork if that’s what it takes to be an informed consumer. Our reporters need to be taken to task when they don’t do their jobs. Our legislators should be questioned when they make decisions that impact the health of our nation, most especially when they seem to be more concerned with satisfying the demands of international organizations whose intentions might be better viewed askance.

Cervarix/Gardasil has been controversially dubbed “the promiscuity vaccine”, and for good reason. Despite protestations to the contrary, it is apparent that a major risk factor for cervical cancer is promiscuity. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) lists these as risk factors for cervical cancer:

  • Having sex at an early age
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Poor economic status (may not be able to afford regular Pap smears)
  • Sexual partners who have multiple partners or who participate in high-risk sexual activities
  • Women whose mothers took the drug DES (diethylstilbestrol) during pregnancy in the early 1960s to prevent miscarriage
  • Weakened immune system

As the list indicates, it is risky sexual behavior that typifies the prime HPV vaccine candidate.

From Healthwise/WebMD: Most cervical cancer is caused by a virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV. You can get HPV by having sexual contact with someone who has it.
From the Mayo Clinic: Many sexual partners, early sexual activity, other STDs, a weak immune system.
From Cancer.gov:

The surest way to eliminate risk for genital HPV infection is to refrain from any genital contact with another individual.

For those who choose to be sexually active, a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner is the strategy most likely to prevent genital HPV infection. However, it is difficult to determine whether a partner who has been sexually active in the past is currently infected.

It is not known how much protection condoms provide against HPV infection, because areas not covered by a condom can be infected by the virus. Although the effect of condoms in preventing HPV infection is unknown, condom use has been associated with a lower rate of cervical cancer, an HPV-associated disease.

Note also, from CBS Report Gardasil Researcher Speaks Out:

“If we vaccinate 11 year olds and the protection doesn’t last… we’ve put them at harm from side effects, small but real, for no benefit,” says Dr. Harper. “The benefit to public health is nothing, there is no reduction in cervical cancers, they are just postponed, unless the protection lasts for at least 15 years, and over 70% of all sexually active females of all ages are vaccinated.” She also says that enough serious side effects have been reported after Gardasil use that the vaccine could prove riskier than the cervical cancer it purports to prevent. Cervical cancer is usually entirely curable when detected early through normal Pap screenings.

Do our wives, sisters, daughters, really need this vaccine? Not if they’re chaste, single women. Not if they’re monogamous and married to a faithful spouse. Not if they’re getting regular Pap smears. Not if they’re mostly healthy women.

Aha! Have we hit the jackpot here? Is the HPV vaccine being heavily promoted because RH bill folks find it more expedient to have our poor women vaccinated? Rather than provide for Pap smears for them, since that “gold standard” is “too expensive” and can’t possibly be covered by the Php3B allotted yearly for RH implementation? Pap smears which, may I point out, are necessary tests to ensure women’s health? Or are Pap smears only for those who can afford it?

It is appalling to see the posts from both Jimenez-David and Magalona, neither of which deem it appropriate that warnings should at least warrant a passing mention. Don’t we owe our women that much? Is it not a travesty that the very women espousing women’s health can’t even spare one sentence to say that this vaccine may not be all that it’s cracked up to be?

Apparently, it wasn’t worth a mention that women have died from the vaccine. Or that there have been severe adverse side effects reported. Or that this is a vaccine commonly required in US dormitories precisely because they expect students to be promiscuous and they don’t want HPV outbreaks in the dorms.

Here, for the readers’ benefit, is a laundry list we suggest readers peruse if they are at all considering HPV vaccination. Forewarned is forearmed. While big pharma continues to deny any causation between vaccines and adverse reactions, the reports continue to pile on.

From the Vaccine Resistance Movement: Gardasil/Cervarix: A Legacy of Shame
From Judicial Watch: Gardasil Law Under Fire and Judicial Watch Investigates Side Effects of HPV Vaccine
Truth About Gardasil, girls whose lives have been affected by the Gardasil vaccine
From the National Vaccine Information Center: Gardasil and HPV Infection: Get the facts
Our Girls Are Not Guinea Pigs
SANE Vax. Inc Addresses Global Concerns about HPV Vaccines in London

Tinkering with women’s bodies, rich or poor, is not a joke. There’s always a price to be paid. The question is, who ultimately pays the price?

Read more:

WHO’s HPV Guidelines Ignore Parents’ Role
The Risks and Benefits of HPV Vaccination from JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association)

Posted in Exposés, The Scientific Perspective, Videos, Women's Health, Youth
6 comments on “Cervical Cancer / HPV, Vaccines and the RH Bill
  1. sandysez says:

    The long term side effects of HPV vaccines are unknown.
    The fact that Gardasil contains an emulsifying agent, polysorbate which renders the blood-brain barrier is worrying. This is because the passage of the neurotoxic aluminium with other substances through the barrier is facilitated, with the increased risk that it lodges in the brain tissue. Risk of subsequent brain damage cannot be excluded.

    The HPV vaccines are sometimes, although incorrectly termed “cancer vaccines”. The manufacturers inform that the actual vaccines have not been tested regarding carcinogenic properties.
    A most relevant issue is that of “replacement”. This is a normal phenomenon in virology where the virus strains which are removed are replaced by new ones. It is unknown (also to the manufacturers) whether the new strains will be more carcinogenic than the original ones.

    In other words, the risk of cancer may be increased by vaccination with the HPV vaccines Gardasil or Cervarix.

    It would indeed be a tragic stroke of irony if the so called “cancer vaccines” actually increase the risk of cancer.

  2. sandysez says:

    Correction: A word fell out from the second sentence. It should read “The fact that Gardasil contains an emulsifying agent, polysorbate which renders the blood-brain barrier porous is worrying.

  3. monica rodriguez says:

    “Do our wives, sisters, daughters, really need this vaccine? Not if they’re chaste, single women. Not if they’re monogamous and married to a faithful spouse. Not if they’re getting regular Pap smears. Not if they’re mostly healthy women.”

    Sure,the things you wrote above is good but what about:

    women who are faithful and monogamous whose husband is unfatihful liar?
    women who unfortunately had sexual relations while they were unmarried?
    women who does not have access to regual pap smears?
    women whose immune system is not strong enough to fight the virus?

    should they be just left to high risks of getting cervical cancer or should they be protected? and its not just this so called “sinners” who gets them because there are alot of women who are faithful that falls victim to unfaithful husbands. shouldnt they be protected? and for the risk of the vaccine to a small number of those who would and already had the shots, should the majority of the population who would benifit be ignored? vaccines has risks, yes, but what about “the greatest good for the greatest number”?

    please consider these things because if you are saying that the promoters of the RH Bill and Cervical vaccine is only looking at the good side of it, you are not any different because the way you say things in this column is just the bad side.

    if you truly care for the population, then make a post about the PROs and the CONs of the Cervical Vaccine without the bias of being a pro or anti RH Bill and let the people decide.

    • Truthsayer says:

      It is not prudent to pass legislation that benefits a minority vs. a majority. Unless you’re saying that majority of Filipinos are promiscuous, in which case that’s a different story. Is that what you’re saying? You say “a lot of women who are faithful that fall victim to unfaithful husbands” — just to clarify, are you saying the MAJORITY of Filipino husbands are unfaithful to their wives? I’d love the readers to chime in. The trend seems to be, for most pro-RH folks who comment here, that they have a lot to say about the ills of society and not much to say about what it would take to CHANGE that society. Band-aids won’t do it, Ma’am. This hemorrhage of common sense has to be stemmed by something more powerful — you can call it willpower, you can call it self-preservation. Others will call it MORALS, and they will not be mistaken.

      An unfaithful liar of a husband will be no less a liar nor become faithful just because his wife has received a cervical cancer vaccine. If anything you will be perpetuating a cycle of abuse instead of penalizing the perpetrator and thereby protecting the woman.

      “Unfortunate” is subjective. We all have free will, we all have choices. In this day and age, people know how harmful smoking is. If a person still CHOOSES to smoke and then contracts lung cancer later, do we lay the blame at someone else’s feet, or do we have the guts to call a spade a spade? Likewise, in this day and age, we already know that risky sexual behavior leads to disease and other problems. If a person STILL CHOOSES to be promiscuous, at whose feet do we lay the blame?

      Pap smears should be covered by the RH bill, one of its (rare) good points. So if the RH bill passes, I hope those of you who were pushing for this bill to pass takes responsibility in ensuring that these measures are done, ESPECIALLY for the poor. Right now, I gotta tell you, not looking good. As corrupt as our government is, you really think they’ll spend that much money providing Pap smears for every woman who needs it? How much of that 3B do you think will go towards Pap smears?

      Women whose immune systems are not strong enough are prone to contracting a HOST of other diseases. If a woman were promiscuous her risk is even higher because now you’ve got cervical cancer added to that list. If she isn’t, great! Her top health concerns are the same top health concerns as indicated by the Department of Health (top ten causes of mortality in the Philippines).

      The thing to remember is this. MANY diseases can be prevented by a lifestyle change. That’s not made up, it’s backed up by scientific research. Lifestyle changes means = change in attitude, change in behavior. If you already know you’ve got a history of high cholesterol in the family, what’s your most prudent mode of action?

      I don’t have to make a post about the PROs of the cervical vaccine because there are people who are already selling it without telling the public the CONs. We’re here to balance things out.

  4. VDB says:

    Please post all deaths related to birth control pills: since 1960. many would like to see how dangerous it really is. Thank you.

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