New vaccine to prevent hpv

By Amanda Finnegan
September 15, 2006

RALPH LAUER

Despite recommendations from the American College Health Association, Cabrini’s health services has decided to not administer the HPV vaccine, until further discussion. Both Eastern University and Villanova University are not carrying the vaccine.

“Cabrini is still considering whether we will carry the vaccine or not. With it being so expensive, it may not be cost effective,” Susan Fitzgerald, the coordinator of health services said.

The ACHA’s Vaccine-Preventable Diseases Committee unanimously voted in favor of a recommendation that females, ages 11 to 26, receive the vaccine. The majority of college health centers follow the board’s decisions as it is generally held as top authority in college health, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggested this past June that 11-and-12-year-old girls be vaccinated against HPV, the human papillomavirus.

HPV is responsible for 70 percent of all cervical cancer cases. The vaccine, Gardasil, would be the first vaccine designed to specifically prevent cancer. Gardasil also protects from two other types of viruses that cause 90 percent of genital warts.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease found in women and can be detected through the Pap Test, however, Gardasil is not meant to take the place of the Pap Test. The virus affects over 50 percent of sexually active adults. The cervical cancer caused by HPV kills 290,000 women worldwide, according to The New York Times.

According to Merck & Co., the makers of the vaccine, Gardasil is affective for five years and long term studies are still in the works to see if a booster shot is needed later in life.

According to Kerri Stiles, the office manager at Penn Medicine at Radnor, some local schools are carrying the vaccine while others are opting out. “Penn State University is carrying the vaccine but The University of Pennsylvania is not,” Stiles said.

The price for Gardasil is not as quick and painless as the shot may be. At $360 for a series of three over six months, parents and young adults alike are going to find it difficult to pay for the vaccine.

The big question is: Is the vaccine worth the price? Merck said that the vaccine could cut global deaths from cancer by two-thirds.

After the committee’s ruling, at least one insurance provider-WellPoint Inc.- announced it would cover the vaccine. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is known to influence insurance provider’s decision as to what vaccines they cover, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The committee also voted to add the vaccine to the coverage list for the Federal Vaccines for Children program which provides vaccines for underprivileged children.

Stiles said that more insurance companies may hop on board after the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report is released in November 2006.

Some government officials argued that the vaccine could make girls more likely to have sex. Conservatives expressed fear to the panel that some states may make the vaccine mandatory to enter school systems.

“Ultimately, the vaccine is designed to prevent cancer. I don’t see what the debate is about. This is about saving lives,” Stiles said.

For more information on HPV and the vaccine, visit www.theHPVtest.com.

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Amanda Finnegan

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