The Truth About Gardasil

Unless your current abode is under a rock, you know by now that the Gardasil vaccine has caused a lot of controversy and debate. But it's not easy to sift through all the material available. There's just too much information, especially on the Internet. The more we read the more difficult it becomes to know what to believe and whom to trust.

Fearless Expert

That's where we ended up having a bit of luck. Dr. Diane Harper dared to tell us the truth about Gardasil. Harper served as principle investigator for the clinical trials on the Cervarix and Gardasil vaccines. Dr. Harper took the bold step of issuing the following statement about the HPV vaccine and Pap tests, "The most important point that I have always said from day one, is that the use of this vaccine must be done with informed consent and complete disclosure of the benefits and harms of Pap screening and HPV vaccines. The decision to be vaccinated must be the woman's (or parent's if it is for a young child), and not the physician's or any board of health, as the vaccination contains personal risk that only the person can value."

Early Detection

Harper has been brave, but she's also been very clear and thorough regarding the benefits of the Pap smear as compared to HPV vaccination. The eminent expert says that Pap smears can find precancerous lesions of the cervix. She likens this to finding cancer before it begins. Pap smears are safe and don't carry the potentially serious adverse effects of the vaccines, but on the other hand, won't reduce the rates of cervical cancer unless up to 70% of all women undergo regular screening.

In order to be effective, Pap smears need to be performed at regular intervals during the course of a woman's life. Around 30% of the time, the Pap smear generates false negatives in U.S. women who end up with a subsequent confirmed diagnosis for cervical cancer. False positives are also a possibility and these can be very traumatic. A woman with a positive Pap smear will need to have a colposcopy and biopsy. During this time, a woman will likely be very frightened and should further testing rule out cervical cancer, a woman will be relieved but wonder why she had to go through such an agonizing experience.

Short Duration

The other side of the coin is that Gardasil will only protect against 3 types of precancer and cancer-causing HPV. Even then, the vaccine is of short duration. The longest protection it gives is five years for just one type of HPV: HPV 16.

Should the vaccine be given within the first year of sexual activity, 57 in 1000 cases of HPV 16 and 18 and stage 2 cervical intraepithelial neoplasias (CINs) will be avoided. In the case where a virgin is vaccinated, only 17 out of 1000 cases of these diseases will be avoided.

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