Cervical Cancer and The HPV Vaccine Controversy: Where are the men? Where is the money?

Cervical Cancer and The HPV Vaccine Controversy: Where are the men? Where is the money?

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HPV Vaccination
Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancerous death, in women, since 1950. Approximately 200,000 cervical cancer patients die each year in developing countries. Strains like HPV 16 and 18 cause about 70% of cervical cancer in women– one of the top causes of death in the world (WebMD, 2010, p.1). In the Unites States, about 10,000 women acquire the disease and 3,700 die annually Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is directly associated as a cause of cervical cancer. This virus affects the skin and genital area and, in some cases, it can also infect the throat and mouth. Since the HPV is passed from one person to another through skin-to-skin or sexual contact, sexually active people are more prone to this virus. Merck pharmaceuticals, in November 2006, began a lobbying and advertising campaign through which they aimed to promote the mandatory vaccination for young women with the vaccine, Gardasil. Some argue that mandatory vaccination is good for females .However, feminists emphatically argue that the HPV vaccine should not be mandatory for young women because of the fact that there are large expenses associated with the vaccine that could lead to conflict of interest, the fact that men carry this virus yet there is no push to vaccinate them and the fact that it is not clear that the vaccine has been sufficiently tested to ensure women’s safety.

Since the vaccine research is currently only funded by the manufacturer of the drug, this raises serious conflict-of-interest issues. Merck pharmaceuticals actually funded initiatives in the United States that were in favour of passing legislation to require mandatory vaccinations. In fact, money was funnelled through an organization called Women in Government (AP January 2...


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... the healer is often maintained by promoting fear, rather than strength, on the part of patients (Sherwin 1992, 143). A lot of unanswered questions remain in the case of Merck’s promotion of mandatory vaccination for women. There is a great deal of money to be made from this vaccine. When we start to uncover and examine the power structures in this healthcare initiative, we can see that there may be reason to be concerned. This does not mean that Gardasil is necessarily bad or that no young women should ever get the vaccine. However, it does mean that when we examine how powerful pharmaceutical companies work in concert with political organizations and powerful political leaders, then the consumers have a reason not to, blindly, accept the given information. We need to ensure that those with corporate interests are not the only voices heard in this debate.





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