HPV vaccine anecdotes – not the basis of real science

Anecdotes are a fundamental part of the anti-vaccine propaganda machine. We have a tendency to overstate the importance of anecdotes, because they usually have an emotional appeal to them. Anecdotes are not data, not even close. At best, they are observations, but they give no indication of temporal correlation, let alone causality.

HPV vaccine anecdotes have become part of the discourse about Gardasil and other HPV vaccines. It has become  full-time job just to debunk the myths that arise from a handful of anecdotes.

I have written on a number of articles about the HPV cancer-prevention vaccines, Gardasil, Cervarix and Silgard. These vaccines prevent infection by up to 9 different types of genital and oral human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the USA.

The virus is generally transmitted from personal contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex. It is very easy to transmit, and according to the CDC, roughly 79 million Americans are infected with HPV–approximately 14 million Americans contract HPV every year.

HPV is believed to cause nearly 5% of all new cancers across the world, making it almost as dangerous with regards to cancer as tobacco. Most individuals don’t even know they have the infection until the onset of cancer. And about 27,000 HPV-related cancers are diagnosed in the USA every year.

There is  a robust body of evidence supporting the fact that HPV vaccines are highly effective in preventing HPV infection. There are also several large studies (also, here and here) that strongly support the high degree of safety of the HPV vaccine.

Recently, the European Medicines Agency (EMA, European Union’s version of the US FDA) had started a review of human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines “to further clarify aspects of their safety profile,” although the agency also points out that this review “does not question that the benefits of HPV vaccines outweigh their risks.”

The outcome? The EMA found that the HPV vaccine was safe.

Continue reading “HPV vaccine anecdotes – not the basis of real science”