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Gardasil: The Good, Bad, & Ugly

by Jessica B. June 4th, 2015 | Women's Health
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social anxietyEver since the Gardasil vaccine was released, there has been a lot of controversy over who should take it, when they should take it, and how effective it is. There are a lot of good reasons to take or to skip the Gardasil vaccine, and the choice is up to each individual or parent. The main benefit of the Gardasil vaccine, in my opinion, is that it opened up the dialogue about the role that HPV plays in cervical cancer, and it spread a great deal of information, very quickly, about how and what is being done to prevent the spread of HPV.

Gardasil is recommended for young girls and consists of three doses in the course of six months. It is recommended for girls at 11 or 12 years old, but it can also be given to women up to 26 years old.

It is also possible to give Gardasil to young boys of the same age. They also carry HPV and can spread it to women or contract anal cancer.

Many families are hesitant to give young girls a vaccine to protect against an illness that is sexual transmitted. There are also many reported side effects that deter some parents for springing for the vaccine. There are many reports of children fainting, and more serious reports of girls losing mobility for a limited period of time.

There are also many different types of HPV, and the vaccine does not prevent against all of the kinds that prevent cancer. Some fear that using the vaccine will deter people from practicing safe sex, although the most preventative measure against HPV is a combination of the vaccine and using condoms.

It is still unknown how long the effects of the vaccination will last. Right now, the vaccine is not recommended for people over 26,because it does not prevent cervical cancer in that part of the population.

Is it worth it? Each family has to weigh the risks and draw their own conclusions. Some studies show that the rate of cervical caner could drop by 2/3 if everyone had access to the vaccine. Having lost a good friend to the disease, I can imagine that there are many people wishing their loved ones had access to such a vaccine. The issue remains in vaccinating girls so young, and how long the effects last. If the vaccine does not work in older women, how effective will it really be in stopping cervical cancer?

The hope might be that the more young people who take this vaccine, boys and girls, the less HPV there will be circulating among the population.

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