By LUCY ORMONDE
Ask most Australian parents what it is and they would call it the wonder vaccine. Gardisil: the drug that in up to 90 per cent of cases will prevent their daughters from developing cervical cancer.
But ask an American parent and you’ll get an entirely different response. Because over in the land of the free and the brave – and thanks to the conservative right – Gardisil is becoming increasingly known as the ‘promiscuity vaccine’.
Some political groups are actively campaigning against the vaccine – on MORAL grounds.
Gardisil protects against the human papillomaviruses (HPV) – the sexually transmitted virus that causes genital warts that can also lead to cervical cancer – and since 2007 the Australian Government has been providing it (for free) to teenage girls while they’re at school. This year they extended access to the vaccination to boys as well as boys can not only transmit the virus to girls, it can cause cancers in them including anal, throat and mouth cancers.
The idea is that these 12 and 13-year-olds receive the immunisation well before they begin sexual activity: because that’s when the drug will be most effective.
The vaccine has been a phenomenal success since it was first introduced in Australia. The take up rates of Gardisil have been high. More than 70 per cent of young people have been vaccinated and recent figures have revealed a “93 per cent decline in genital warts in women under 21 and a 73 per cent decline in women aged 21 to 30″.
And why wouldn’t the take up rates be high? This wonder drug means that fewer Australian girls and women will suffer from fertility issues, fewer will develop cervical cancer and fewer will die of the disease.
And that’s why it’s so shocking to learn that so many parents in the United States are preventing their daughter from being vaccinated.