The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. According to the CDC African-American women are 40 percent more likely to develop cervical cancer caused by the STD human papillomavirus (HPV) and 20 percent more likely to die from it compared to white women. HPV in many women just clears up on its own, but researchers found that Black women have a harder time with the clearing up process. Depending on the strain of HPV, it can develop into cervical cancer. Researchers thought that less access to health care made black women more susceptible to cervical cancer, but a new study conducted by the University of South Carolina in Columbia suggests that it might be a biological issue. If other research confirms the finding, the HPV vaccine could be more important to black women.
The HPV vaccine is not without controversy. Last year, Texas Governor Rick Perry was at the center of a national debate about the controversial HPV vaccine. In 2007, he signed an executive order that required all sixth-grade girls in his state receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. Although the order included an opt-out for those parents who didn’t want their daughters to receive the vaccination, it was met with opposition and overridden by the state in 2008.
Although the vaccine has proven health benefits, there are still plenty of unanswered questions and issues. In regards to health, many people are concerned that the vaccine doesn’t provide enough protection, since there are several strains of the disease. Since the vaccine is fairly new, people have also questioned the long-term side effects. Many parents also feel that the recommended for the vaccine is too young. The U.S. Advisory on Immunization Practices suggests that boys and girls receive the vaccination between the ages of 11 and 14. “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend that girls receive HPV vaccine around age 11 or 12,” the AAP said in a statement released last year in response to Michelle Bachman’s bashing of the HPV vacinnation. “That’s because this is the age at which the vaccine produces the best immune response in the body, and because it’s important to protect girls well before the onset of sexual activity. In the U.S., about 6 million people, including teens, become infected with HPV each year, and 4,000 women die from cervical cancer. This is a life-saving vaccine that can protect girls from cervical cancer.” Although the intent is to protect children before they become sexually active, many parents feel that the age is too early for an STD vaccination, and others feel it will encourage sexual promiscuity amongst teens.
There is no disputing the fact that HPV affects African-American women at a higher rate, and the risks for cervical cancer are relevant. But should there be mandates when it comes to a HPV vaccine. Should it be left up to the parents whether or not to have their child vaccinated?
Do you think the HPV vaccine should be mandatory? Do the benefits outweigh the concern?