September 5, 2009

Cervical Cancer Vaccine: The Controversy

Last month's "Living Well" had an interesting topic over Gardasil, the vaccine against cervical cancer. Definitely one of the greatest breakthroughs in the medical field over the past few years has been the development of this vaccine which prevents 70% of cervical cancer cases, the second most common form of cancer among women worldwide. The vaccine should be given to girls ages 9 to 25 as three shots over the course of 6 months with each shot costing 150 JD if memory serves.

So what's the problem? We've come up with a vaccine for cancer! Why would any parent refuse such a vaccine for their daughters? All cervical cancer cases are caused by strains of a virus called HPV which is sexually transmitted. And when the words sexually transmitted are involved, the average middle-eastern parent will become utterly offended by the fact that they're even offering a "sex shot" as it was referred to in the magazine. Such a vaccine will be seen as a green card for girls to start having sex, as if the only thing standing between them and promiscuity is the chance of contracting cervical cancer. One interviewed mother said she would not give the vaccine to her daughter, but were they to develop it for males she would give it to her son.

Tell me one thing, though. Do you tell your child to go play with rusty nails after giving him a tetanus shot? Would you kiss a flu patient because you've had your flu shot? Of course not. A vaccine is not a green card for anything, it is simply a rational precaution against a known disease. And to have anyone die from something completely preventable is absurd, in my opinion. One woman said "I'd rather live with the unfounded suspicion of my daughter sleeping around than to bury her one day because of my irrational decision".

I think at least there needs to be awareness about the subject so parents can know about it before it's too late. I for one had no idea the vaccine was available in Jordan.

So what do you think? Should Gardasil be given to girls? And for the ladies under 25, would you take it? For the parents, would you give it to your daughters?


kinzi said...

I would do it. One never knows the STDs a husband might have and not disclose. He may not know himself.

(wow, thx for posting to quickly after I complained! ;D)

Anonymous said...

Well, on a more medical point of view, when we speak on vaccinating we talk about whole populations.
The issue was in May 2008 when the first news of the vaccine was released. At King Hussein Cancer Center where I work, a committee was established by the ministry of health to study implementing such a project. and I have to admit that people involved in this committee were high standing and quite professional.
Their conclusion was this vaccine is not recommended for all females in Jordan ""At the time being". the reasons were simple and obvious, although cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer world wide. It is responsible for a very low number of incidents here in Jordan, and it's the 4th cause of cancer in females here in Jordan, with a low incident rate of 1-2 cases per 100000 females in Jordan!
The committee did recommend that who ever can afford the vaccine should buy it to avoid any other problems. it also did recommend that women should perform a " pap smear". a small procedure to take a swab of the cervix to detect if there is an HPV virus or not, on more regular bases, without specifying if they were sexually active or not

Farah said...

Kinzi, I had the post in mind, I was just too lazy to post it hehe :)

Tha2ir, valid point, but what are the incidence rates for polio let's say? Yet it's a compulsory vaccination if I'm not mistaken. I don't know if the state has the capacity to enforce a national vaccination program, but I think there needs to be awareness about the issue at least so women know their options.

Saed said...

Welcome back :)

I would do it, and I would teach my kids some morals, teach them about sex. Instead of keeping them away from it and have them learn from the wrong place. I mean it's a responsibility as a parent. It's careless to just keep them in the dark aobut something so human and normal.

So let them be healthy and happy rather than opressed.

Anonymous said...

in the case of polio, that's a different story, we're talking about a highly contagious disease that can kill millions, and the vaccine is quite cheep to afford offering it to the whole population. I do agree that people should know more about,and I certainly will encourage every woman I know to take it, but I won't support the government paying all these funds to support vaccinating the whole population.

Halawa said...

"I'd rather live with the unfounded suspicion of my daughter sleeping around than to bury her one day because of my irrational decision"
It's quite sad really... People have got their ideas upside down.

I don't think it's a green light for ANYTHING, it's a precaution, nothing more or less.. People remain limited to ideas that haunt them.

Yes, I would take it (but since I'm not much of a person who really gives attention to vaccines or whatever =p), and I'm pretty sure my mom push me to do so if I seriously thought about it.

kinzi said...

Farah, some ideas out there about Gardasil