Fear-Mongering Over Gardasil

In what could almost pass for a Merck ad, an NYT editorial today takes up the drug maker’s propaganda and glosses over all the evidence countering it.

Teenage girls and their parents need to read the latest government study of sexually transmitted diseases. The infections are so prevalent they are hard to avoid once a girl becomes sexually active. One in four girls ages 14 to 19 is infected with at least one of four common diseases. Among African-American girls in the study, almost half were infected.

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By far the most common of the four S.T.D.’s was the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which infected 18 percent of the girls. Chlamydia infected 4 percent, trichomoniasis — a common parasite — 2.5 percent, and genital herpes 2 percent.

The study did not look at such feared diseases as H.I.V./AIDS, syphilis or gonorrhea, but the four it did look at are worrisome enough. Although most HPV infections cause no symptoms and clear the body in less than a year, persistent HPV can cause cervical cancer and genital warts. S.T.D.’s can cause infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and other painful symptoms.

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The new findings strengthen the case for providing HPV vaccine to young girls and for regular screening of sexually active girls to detect infection. There is also a clear need to strengthen programs in sex education. Exhortations to practice abstinence go only so far.

Teenage girls who are sexually active need access to contraceptives and counseling. They need to understand that the numbers are against them and that a serious infection is but a careless sexual encounter away.

Look at the bolded part and remember what we’ve just learned: HPV does NOT cause cancer and the CDC knows it. Has known it for several years. Yet it’s still barkering for Merck and fear-mongering around girls having sex.

The agenda of the Bush Administration couldn’t be clearer: it’s terrified of sexual females and determined to promote Big Pharma profits no matter who gets hurt. The HPV Scam is a neat way to accomplish both objectives with a single initiative.

But we knew that. What a lot of us don’t yet realize is how far the Bushies have taken their hatred of science, how far they’ve gone to turn science into a political tool. The CDC used to be an independent, more or less trustworthy agency that by and large did good work. It has now morphed into just another propaganda outfit for the ideologies and biases of conservatives and the religious right. Since we know they know they’re lying about the connection between HPV and cervical cancer, there’s no other rational explanation.

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