The June 20 front-page article “Doctors urge use of HPV vaccine ” cited oncologists advocating greater use of the human papillomavirus vaccine. Transmission of HPV is nearly always by genital contact, so equating failure to advocate HPV vaccination, as one oncologist did, with failure to advocate for colonoscopies is rubbish. As far as we know, colon cancer is not communicable. Cancer from HPV, however, follows a voluntary human act.
In addition, the number of cervical cancers projected to be prevented by the vaccine is exactly that: a projection. Even the Gardasil 9 vaccine, which covers nine strains of HPV , does not claim to prevent all cancer-causing viruses, nor do we know how long immunity will last. It may be that periodic boosters will be advised, but all is conjecture at this point.
What is also conjecture is the presumption that the entire population would engage in promiscuous sexual behavior, thus needing population-wide protection similar to vaccination against airborne and water-borne diseases. Promotion of contraception and HPV vaccination helps to make this a self-fulfilling prophecy just when the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Report found a drop in sexual activity among youths.
Hanna Klaus, Bethesda
The writer is founder of the Teen STAR Program and the Natural Family Planning
Center of Washington.