The HPV vaccine controversy has got many people confused. Here’s what you need to know. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common virus that is transmitted via sexual contact. Symptoms aren’t always apparent and someone can be a carrier without knowing it. The virus, like influenza, will usually go away on its own. If the immune system is not working optimally, however, the virus can linger, causing genital warts. There is also evidence that extended exposure to the virus can cause cancer of the cervix, vagina, anus, rectum, mouth, throat, penis, and vulva.
HPV Vaccine Controversy
Vaccinations have been developed to prevent infection of HPV and in recent years campaigns to promote vaccination have escalated. The two most popular vaccines are Gardasil (made by Merck) and Cervarix (made by GlaxoSmithKline). Aggressive vaccination programs of teenage children (girls and boys) have been instituted worldwide. The uptake of these programs has been lower than expected and the safety of these vaccinations is being questioned.
Drs. Genevieve Rail of Concordia University and Abby Lippmann of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec were awarded a grant to research the safety and efficacy of Gardasil in preventing HPV infection. Before submitting the official results of their research for publication, they authored an op-ed piece in the Quebec newspaper Le Devoir entitled, “HPV Vaccination: Urgent Call for a Moratorium”. (1) This exposé rocked the vaccination world.
A Sensitive Subject
Rail and Lippmann were slammed by colleagues and the mainstream media because they were paid to research, not condemn. Their research was conducted over a four-year period; part of the study included interviews with parents, some of whom reported their children experienced serious side effects after vaccination.
“I’m sort of raising a red flag, out of respect for what I’ve found in my own study, and for the despair of parents who had totally perfect 12-year-olds who are now in their beds, too tired to go to school. Yes, we’re going against the grain, and we are going against those who are believed, i.e., doctors and nurses and people in public health.” (2)
Here are the primary reasons why the scientists so strongly spoke against HPV vaccinations:
- Absence of informed consent – the potential side effects of the vaccines are not disclosed to parents, nor are the benefits of the vaccine (which researchers question).
- Serious adverse reactions – some countries no longer recommend them due to the high risk of serious adverse reactions.
- Deficient pharmacovigilance system – it was discovered that healthcare professionals have been withholding reports of adverse reactions, even (or especially) when severe.
- False priority in public health – HPV vaccines are promoted to prevent cervical cancer. However, incidences of this type of cancer has been steadily declining (without the vaccine) worldwide due to pap tests.
- Questionable causality – “the vast majority of girls and women who have high risk HPV do not develop cancer because HPV alone cannot cause cancer. Furthermore, in 90% of cases, the HPV disappear naturally from the body within the two years that follow an infection.” (3)
- Unproven efficacy – cervical cancer takes decades to develop—there are no studies yet possible that the vaccines work. In addition, Gardasil can increase the risk of precancerous lesions if it is administered to a woman who has already contracted the virus.
- Fraudulent marketing – Gardasil is heavily advertised as being cancer preventive. However, there is no evidence that is true and there are no long-term clinical trials of the HPV vaccines.
- Hasty approval – Gardasil was approved for general use before adequate clinical trials to prove its safety and effectiveness.
“Everywhere on the planet, vaccinated girls are the protagonists at the heart of a drama kept secret by pharmaceutical companies. At the least, our [Quebec] Health Minister should impose a moratorium so that independent research could be done on a vaccine suspected of causing very serious adverse reactions. Current studies are not independent or they use time criteria (too short) or symptom criteria (too restricted) that do not allow the detection of a majority of girls experiencing serious adverse reactions.”
Dr. Lucija Tomlijenovic gives a short review of the scientific literature around Gardasil and Cervarix below. As she concludes, studies performed by the pharmaceutical company don’t test for adverse reactions. “You’re not going to find what you’re not looking for,” she warns.