HPV Shots for Boys Bring Out the Conspiracy and Anti-Science Amongst World Net Daily Readers

Posted: October 7, 2013 in conspiracy, medicine
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Let’s get right to this one: “Government Pressured to Fund HPV Shots for Boys.” By “Government,” we’re talking Toronto, part of that frozen country to the north that we’ve tried to invade a few times, Canada.

First, what’s HPV? It’s the Human Papillomavirus. What is Gardasil? It is a vaccine for HPV types 6, 1, 16, and 18. What is cervical cancer? It is cancer of the cervix (a female body part), >90% of all cases for which are caused by HPV, ≈70% of which are by types 16 and 18. It is the second most common cancer and fifth deadliest in women world-wide; in the US, it is the 8th most common cancer in women (source). HPV also causes some types of anal, vulvar, vaginal, and penile cancers (yes, as in it affects men).

They can now be prevented with reasonable success by a series of three injections (“jabs” for you UK readers) that cost $120 each and may be covered by insurance. Gardasil was released on June 8, 2006, in the US and since then has been administered over 40 million times and has been approved by the US FDA and CDC.

Safety-wise (start here, then read the references), it has nearly no significant side-effects and there are no statistically significant trends linking it to anything bad. One death per 1 million doses is the current rate. Local reactions to the shot, headaches, hypersensitivity, and hives add up to 17.3 cases per 100,000 doses.

Now, back to WND. It quotes a story from the Toronto Star, the first four paragraphs of which I will quote, as well:

When Becky Maddigan took her 14-year-old son Jack to a public health clinic for a free HPV immunization he never did get around to rolling up his sleeve and being pricked in the arm.

She, however, got “all up in arms” when health officials raised a subject she found prickly: The vaccine is only publicly funded for girls.

“I was just livid,” says the Brampton mom about that trip last spring to the Peel clinic, which prompted her to write letters to politicians, urging them to extend coverage to boys.

“Why should (Jack) not be vaccinated just because he’s a male when the HPV (vaccine) would still protect him?” asks Maddigan about her only child. “I don’t think it’s fair.”

Makes sense to me – that she’s complaining, not that it’s not funded. Let’s be clear and draw an analogy: Disease X only affects women. But, anyone could be a carrier. If you vaccinate both men and women against Disease X, then the chances of it spreading are much lower. Why? Let’s say the vaccine doesn’t always work, so now the chances of it not working on two people are much smaller than just one. Let’s say that a woman doesn’t take it, but a man does. Now that man can’t transmit Disease X to the woman even though she hasn’t taken the vaccine. Seems reasonable to me.

Now to World Net Daily commenters. The story has been up for two days, and it has two ratings with an average score of 1.50/5. It has 18 comments, so it wasn’t a widely read story. Perhaps the only saving grace, maybe WND readers don’t get their science and medical news from WND.

The class of comments generally falls into three categories: Gardasil is dangerous (as are all vaccines), HPV is only dangerous to females, and/or don’t have sex and you won’t get HPV.

For the first category, we have a sample from the highest-rated comment (23 up, 0 down votes) by “Pi10107”: “Hey lady, you should be ashamed for wanting your son to be put in danger by a drug that has not been tested long enough, but already has had severe consequences.” Or, the second-highest by “Beverly Owens” (15 up, 0 down): “Doctors have tried to insist on this for my kids. Not my kids. Do some research on the hazards of these vaccines.”

For the second category, a sample from the first half of the response to Pi by “larryPTL”: “Plus the HPV itself is not harmful to males, only females.” Or, from “AmerizonWarrior” (8 up, 1 down): “hmmmmm how many MALES are in serious danger from hpv? I don’t recall any male coming down with cervical/utirine/ovarian cancer…………………….”

For the third category, we have the second half of his response: “There are two tried and true ways to not catch it: abstinence outside of marriage and monogamy within marriage.”

Some have multiple categories in the same response, such as “pnordman” with 10 up-votes and 0 down-votes: “I’m hopelessly old-fashioned – just tell the kids to keep it zipped until marriage. Then they won’t have to worry about STDs. This particular vaccine is bad news, anyway. Too many articles out there about what it has done to perfectly healthy girls – read up, parents!”

Further evidence that we need better scientific literacy in this world.

Edited to Add (December 22, 2013): I’m adding this here because I don’t want to do another post on a small story. “Katie Couric Upsets Media Over HPV Vaccine” was a recent story because she made some stupid, uninformed comments (see above to get a general idea) and became the anti-vaccine crowd’s poster girl of the day because of it.

  1. Becca says:

    Bah, this drives me crazy more than most of their nonsense. The idea that because it’s to protect women (mostly) so guys don’t need to worry about it just screams misogyny. Really shows their true colors. The other argument, just don’t have sex outside of marriage, yeap sorry that one doesn’t work either. I can personally attest to that one not working and I’m not the only example. As for the “it’s dangerous” argument unfortunately you get antivac people from all over the spectrum.

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