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July 13, 2007

Vaccines and Behavior

A recent study testing a partially-effective Lyme disease vaccine's effect on behavior found that...it didn't have much of one. This is supposed to allay our concerns as to the HPV vaccine's impacts -- concerns no sane person would have.

I know a lot of folks afraid of contracting HIV in a given sexual encounter. I know even more terrified of pregnancy. I know a fair number unsettled by the high incidence of herpes. I know absolutely none who have ever reached for a prophylactic because they were cripplingly fearful of contracting human papillomavirus. None. HPV is such a low-level concern (in part because it's very poorly understood) for most sexually active individuals that it's almost impossible to imagine a perfectly effective vaccine having any impact on behavior. When prophylactics are used, they're used to prevent pregnancy and grievous diseases. That you're no longer at risk for this relatively minor ailment you've never heard of is rather unlikely to make a big difference.

July 13, 2007 | Permalink


The vaccine is not to prevent a minor ailment. It's to prevent the cervical cancer than results from the minor ailment.

Posted by: Cardinal Fang | Jul 13, 2007 1:23:05 PM

"I know absolutely none who have ever reached for a prophylactic because they were cripplingly fearful of contracting human papillomavirus."

That's because rubbers don't help prevent HPV. It can be passed from the base of the dick, or even the leg.

Posted by: Steve | Jul 13, 2007 3:31:01 PM

Minor? MINOR?

What rock did you just crawl out from under? For someone who knows so much about healthcare, I can't believe you don't know about the cervical cancer connection. Heck, even the non-cancerous HPV strains are extremely painful, and the treatment for them is not quick and easy. How would you like to have dry ice and acid burned into your privates?

Posted by: Grace | Jul 13, 2007 6:59:46 PM

First off, what the Cardinal and Steve and Grace said.

Second, people tend to forget that there are more ways to catch HPV than a wild, hedonistic, multi-partner sex life. People get raped. People have unfaithful partners. People have partners who don't know they are infected. Heck, you can get HPV by getting into a perfectly functioning modern hot tub after someone else who has it.

No condom in the world is going to prevent that.

Let's stop saying this is about preventing a SEXUALLY transmitted disease -- thereby making it something only bad girls get -- and start calling this a pre-cancerous, moderately transmissible disease.

Posted by: ShortWoman | Jul 13, 2007 9:08:49 PM

The Lyme Vaccine was a disaster because of the number of people it actually activated the disease in. Why is the truth kept from us? The HPV vaccine is to prevent cancer. As a retired R.N. I would suggest this vaccine in a heartbeat. The ravages of Lyme Disease and Babesia which took 10 years to diagnose and 5 more years to get to IGENEX Lab and find out why my health had gone from an active OB nurse, tennis player, jogger, to a patient that couldn't think, had such horrible fatigue, eye floaters of unknown cause, one tumor after another forming all over my body as well as cyclical rashes and an oxygen saturation of 78% until IV therapy was introduced. When I took my engorged tick in to be checked I was told not to give it a thought because Texas (August of 1989) didn't have Lyme Disease. If I had been given doxicycline at that time I would have enjoyed a normal life. I am so glad my daughter contacted me after I suffered a brain aneurysm rupture in August of 1999 to tell me about a man they had heard about that day in one of her medical classes in dental school. The man had suffered shoulder surgeries, brain fog, fatigue, chronic infections that were difficult to eradicate, eye problems, tumors, and a brain aneurysm rupture My daughter thought they were talking about me. His diagnosis through IGENEX Lab was Lyme with co-infections. I was tested and found to have been suffering all those years with multiple doctor visits, blood tests, one orthopedic surgery after another for knee aspirations, two shoulders, three foot neuromas, cystic ovary, cervical spine, and waiting for lower back (L5-S1) multiple ruptures of these disks which has caused pain beyond belief and caused right leg to become numb so that I ended up with a fall that took out several ligaments and tendon damage with cast for two months and special boot for two more months and many visits for rehab. to walk and this was the leg attached to the foot that had had it's second neuroma surgery on the ball of my right foot so the cast had to cover the ball and large toe joint. Pretty difficult to push off without your big toe in working condition. Because of this disease which morphs into many stages and without the medicine I am now receiving I would still be on oxygen, in a wheelchair with little use of arms and legs and little swallow refex. Most likely six feet under. Sounded a tad like ALS. There is a chronic form of this disease and I am not the only one out there with it. What causes MS, ALS, Lupus, Alzheimers, Gulf war syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? The plague being studdied on autopsies of ALS, MS, Alzheimers patients are interesting because in many cases Borrelia Burgorferi is being found. How quiet this seems to be. So I would not take the Lyme Vaccine ever. The HPV I would suggest as an OB nurse for sure. sorry for the rambling but our medical care in this country is not run by the doctors, but by the HMO's with their billions of saved dollars and the Insurance companies denial for treatment because of the HMO's deciding to deny, deny, deny. When the Infectious Disease Assoc. came out with their latest protocal for Borrelia that stated Lyme could be cured with two to four weeks of oral antibiotics I do not in disagreement, however, years ago many of us were missed and had no treatment. When I started the IV Rocephin during my hospital stay in ICU for the brain rupture, within days my fatigue lessened, eyes cleared, dizzy spells abated, joint relief was amazing and I felt like me again. At that point I did not know I had been fighting two types of Borrelia and Babesia Microti and Babesia WA1. As soon as I left the hospital all signs and symtoms returned within weeks. Once I was found to have the above diseases my doctors got together and felt that because I had not been treated I was in the cystic phase of Lyme. So the spirochete roams throughout my body and at time forms cysts in my blood cells. At this point oral doxicycline would be like putting a band-aid on a severed limb. The Cmv, epsteinbar,and all the other herpes viruses are off the charts so am starting two weeks on Valcyte. I hope that this Chronic Complex Immune Defiency that I and many others will have the chance to get the proper care we need and stop this hogwash that we are not sick. Sorry for the ramble, but sometimes a person needs to vent not only for themselves, but for the thousands that are not living a normal life because some doctors think that long term antibiotic treatment will make the patient suffer and in reality if one of their family members went through what we go through on a daily basis they would quickly stop the infighting and treat each patient as an individual and do what is best for the patient so that they could live life again. Thank you, Pam Mitchell

Posted by: Pam Mitchell | Jul 14, 2007 3:18:07 AM

Relatively minor is exactly it. HPV has symptoms in a fraction of the 50+% of sexually active adults who have it. It's so common and there's so much prejudice against STDs that a lot of people who have it don't know they have it. If you've ever had an abnormal Pap and had to come back? Guess what. You have HPV and the doctor didn't tell you because he didn't want you to freak out and say, "OH NOES I AM A DIRTY SLUT!" Or, that's roughly what I learned after grilling my doctor about it.

Posted by: Amanda Marcotte | Jul 14, 2007 1:52:41 PM

That said, it's a minor ailment until you get cancer.

Posted by: Amanda Marcotte | Jul 14, 2007 1:53:10 PM

Except that detection of pre-cancerous changes is really easy, treatment of pre-cancerous changes is really easy, and the expensive vaccine doesn't decrease the recommended schedule of screening exams. Additionally, the new ThinPrep and SurePath cytology methods increase sensitivity of the routine Pap.

Cervical cancer was the most common cause of cancer death in women in the 19th century. In part this was due to the fact that cervical CA is a cancer of young women and there were fewer old people and fewer aging related cancers, but most of the improvment is due to an effective screening and treatment program. Cervical CA is now a relatively rare cause of cancer death in women.

My experience has been that only very recently are young people aware of the HPV/cancer connection which makes it a pretty ineffective reason to discourage pre-marital sex.

Posted by: J Bean | Jul 14, 2007 6:14:07 PM

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