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Archive for Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Stopping a silent killer

Doctors recommend new HPV vaccine for girls as young as 9

October 3, 2006

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There's no doubt Dr. Kathy Gaumer is excited about offering a new vaccine for human papillomavirus.

"This is probably one of the most important advances in women's health in the past decade, if not longer," says Gaumer, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, 325 Maine.

Commonly called HPV, human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. More than half of sexually active men and women will become infected at some point in their life.

Usually, those infections don't lead to any side effects, and people don't even know they have HPV. In rare cases, HPV can lead to genital warts.

But certain strains of HPV also can lead to cervical cancer. That's why the Food and Drug Administration in June approved a new vaccine to prevent HPV in women.

"This will protect our daughters from ever developing those high-risk HPV subgroups and cancer that relates to it in the future," Gaumer says.

LMH and Watkins Health Center on the KU campus were among the local health care providers who received their first shipments of HPV vaccine in August. Now, they're trying to get the word out.

At KU, Watkins officials are spreading the word through wellness fairs and information distributed in living communities.

"It's a great vaccine to prevent cervical cancer - a big breakthrough," says Kathy Guth, nurse practitioner.

This computer-generated model, provided by the University of Wisconsin Institute of Molecular Virology, shows the protein shell of a particle of human papillomavirus.

This computer-generated model, provided by the University of Wisconsin Institute of Molecular Virology, shows the protein shell of a particle of human papillomavirus.

Interest in the vaccine has been slow so far, Guth says, but she thinks that will change as more people learn about it.

"We hope so," she says. "I think it's just the beginning of it."

The FDA approved the vaccine for girls and women ages 9 through 26. Gaumer says LMH is especially advocating for girls to be vaccinated around age 11 or 12.

"The group we're seeing the most, maybe not as young as 9, but it's early adolescents," Gaumer says. "The primary objective is to get these young women immunized prior to their first sexual contact. It's hard for most parents to look at their 9-year-old daughter and bring them in for a vaccine that's specifically for a sexually transmitted virus, but certainly in their early teen years, it's more acceptable for them to do this."

The vaccine, a series of three shots taken over a six-month period, costs $360 in all. But Gaumer says most insurance carriers are covering the shots.

"We now know it's a very safe and effective vaccine that produces 100 percent immunity against those four HPV subtypes (most likely to cause cervical cancer)," Gaumer says. "The thing we don't know yet is how long will it last, will it need a booster, and if so, at what time interval."

Though only a small percentage of women with HPV will develop cervical cancer, more than 10,500 women develop cervical cancer, and 3,900 die from it each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gaumer says that should be enough for parents to have their girls vaccinated, and for grown women to do the same. Though the FDA only allows vaccinations through age 26 currently, Gaumer says she wouldn't be surprised if that age restriction is lifted in the future, or that a vaccine is developed for men, who help to spread HPV through sexual contact.

Gaumer is hoping to spread the word about the potentially life-saving vaccine.

"Just as with any new treatment or procedure that comes along, it takes awhile to get the community involved and to get the word out that it's here and we're ready to start giving the vaccination," she says. "Once it's more general knowledge, we'll have an influx of patients."

Comments

Becca 8 years, 2 months ago

You know, I'm not a marrige before sex nazi or anything, but if there were more parents educating thier child about the dangers of premature sex, and one night stands, there would be no need for something like this.

BOE 8 years, 2 months ago

Posted by werekoala on October 3, 2006 at 3:05 p.m.

Becca's right.....

=====

Would you mind posting the Onion link for this piece?

Thanks.

werekoala 8 years, 2 months ago

Becca's right.

about 90% of non-conservative individuals end up having sexual intercourse with partners other than those they marry.

About 70% of conservative individuals do the same.

And pretty much every sexually active adult has been exposed to HPV (seriously, if you've had sex with someone who's had sex w/someone else, your odds are like 90% you've got it).

Becca is saying if you take responsibility and educate your children, they go from having odds of 9 in 10 of getting busy before marriage, to only 7 out of 10 of them rutting like weasels.

But what about the person they are marrying? Have they been honest and pure their whole lives? Odds, again, if they are strong conservatives, is 7 out of 10 of them have not. So do the math (3/10 x 3/10 = 9/100) if you're a really good parent (or really optimistic), your kid has a 9% chance of not being exposed to HPV. (well, lower than that when you figure in the "alternative activities" conservative kids engage in).

And when we're talking about something that can quite literally kill a woman, 9% odds are pretty good, aren't they. Certainly no need to vaccinate your kids, and if they die, well, hell, that's just what the little sluts deserve, isn't it?

All 91 percent of them.

Laura Watkins 8 years, 2 months ago

While I definitely believe there is a need for better sex education, a friend from high school got HPV from a long-term boyfriend (and the only person she had ever had sex with) who didn't know he had it.

werekoala 8 years, 2 months ago

BOE:

Huh? That came from my own lil brain, as far as I know. Did the Onion do a similar story?

BOE 8 years, 2 months ago

by werekoala on October 3, 2006 at 4:04 p.m.

BOE:

Huh? That came from my own lil brain, as far as I know.

===

My mistake.

===

" Did the Onion do a similar story? "

==

They do similar satire.

Becca 8 years, 2 months ago

Okay, I get what your saying. I do agree now that I've read my comment a little more closely that it is bad. But a 9 year old getting this vaccine? She hasn't even had her first period yet. That really does bug me.

Confrontation 8 years, 2 months ago

Nine year olds are looking more like 13 year olds, and sick pedophiles are lurking everywhere. Even if a kid chooses to wait, what's the harm in protecting her? A lot of children are molested and can easily get this through that horrible act. Also, you don't have to have actual intercourse to get this. It's a virus that can pass from skin to skin contact in the genital area. Condoms do not protect you from this, since there is still skin to skin contact. Parents would have to be stupid not to protect their daughters. Really, most girls aren't going to wait, and their men are even less likely to be virgins. Don't be idiots.

justsomewench 8 years, 2 months ago

a parent's fairytale ethics and pride vs. protecting one of their children against cancer.

hmm, what a conundrum.

ASBESTOS 8 years, 2 months ago

"But a 9 year old getting this vaccine? She hasn't even had her first period yet."

No offense intended here, but are you out of your mind??? We are talking about a virus and it does not care whether that 9 year old has had her period or not. The question is not even sexual in it's main point which is: staving off cervical cancer. Women and girls are/will be/could be sexually active, vaccine or no, but the cancer risk is sure, and can be abated.

What does age have to do with it. You vaccinated the young against other viruses, and some of those vaccines had more side effects and mostly none of them can prevent cancer.

What is the beef? A hung up repression of sexual understanding which is irrelevant?

Health is the point.

laughingatallofu 8 years, 2 months ago

I hope that this information is incorporated into sex ed education (both students AND parents). It's not a magic bullet. But the consequences of contracting HPV can be awful.

But, here we live in Kansas, and the current SBOE thinks that it is better for kid's parents to "opt-in" to sex ed than to have them opt-out.

Brilliant.

werekoala 8 years, 2 months ago

Becca,

The point is, after a child becomes sexually active, it's too late for the vaccine. And thankfully, 9 year olds are usually not sexually active. Although molestation ccan and does occur.

My personal take is that this should be one of the standard vaccinations you get as a young child, along with MMR, tetanous, etc. I really cannot think of any good reason NOT to universally vaccinate against any disease for which a vaccine is available. To me it's like saying, sure, we have a tetanous vaccine, but if we give it out, it's just going to encourage people to step on nails!

And hell, all this takes is skin contact. Although unlikely, someone who has touched their genitals recently and then touches you has a slight chance of conveying the virus. Think about public toilets, and moneychanging, and dressing rooms. All these present unlikely (but possible) ways in which a person, even an prepubescent child, could contract the disease.

In my opinion, conservative groups like CWA, etc. who have opposed this potentially life-saving vaccine are being criminally irresponisble with the lives and well-being of our children out of mis-placed fears of immorality.

I'm the last person to encourage irresponsible sexual conduct, but to deny life-saving treatments to children because you object to one out of the dozens of ways a disease can be contracted is no better than the Christian Scientists who let their child die rather than receive antibiotics. Which is to say, child abuse.

Tychoman 8 years, 2 months ago

"Wheel of morality, turn turn turn. Tell us the lesson that we should learn."

Moral # 28.7 paragraph 13: "We don't want you to have sex before we think you're ready. But you're probably going to do it anyway. So at the very least, be as careful as you can."

laughingatallofu 8 years, 2 months ago

Tychoman,

Unfortunately, there are parents (and politicians) out there who just can't accept that line of thought. How sad.

Tychoman 8 years, 2 months ago

I don't think I ever got that talk from my parents, but I used common sense and my public schooling to figure it out myself.

Becca 8 years, 2 months ago

Yes, I'm hearing, and yes there were some points made that I didn't think of. I'm sorry if I offended anyone.

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