Cancer vaccine cost prohibitive
Posted Nov. 17, 2006

A vaccine that could prevent a common form of cancer has been found, but its pricetag could be prohibitive to the population that needs it most – college–age women.

The drug company Merck created a vaccine, marketed as Gardasil, for the Human Papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer.

The vaccine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and it is being marketed to girls and women ages 9 to 26, who are most at risk of contracting HPV, which is sexually transmitted.

However, many insurance companies won’t cover the vaccine – a vaccine that could prevent cervical cancer.

We at Campus Times feel that this is appalling.

If drug companies can justify covering Viagra over this vaccine, their value system is off.

Forcing young women to pay for a vaccine that will prevent cancer is unfair.

Women dish out $350 for the vaccine, an amount that some can't afford.

Even though all full-time students get free services from the University's Health Center, none of their vaccines are covered, and the number of students infected dramatically increases every year.

The Health Center states that further insurance coverage would increase the cost of the students' already high tuition.

Merck has a program called Vaccines for Children that assist girls aged 9 to 18 in purchasing the vaccine; however, little is done for those over 18 – years-old with a health plan that does not cover the vaccine.

Even though the vaccine is a remarkable breakthrough, Merck claims that like any other vaccine, Gardasil does not guarantee protection from HPV for everyone.

HPV has more than 100 viral strains, some of which cause genital warts and cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cause of cancerous death in women, and nlike other cancers, this one is caused by a virus.

Sexually transmitted diseases are growing into an epidemic as parents refuse to talk to their children about sex in high school and leave most of the instruction to peers and teachers.

According to the Centers for Disease and Control, approximately 9.2 million young adults aged 15 to 24 had genital HPV in the year 2000. Today CDC estimates that the number has grown to 20 million.

Every year more than 6 million new cases of genital HPV are diagnosed.

Physicians claim that one way to prevent the virus from spreading is for women is to have regular Pap smear tests, which will help detect abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix.

The virus has few symptoms, therefore check-ups are recommended yearly.

If the virus is not discovered and treated immediately, it could infect sexual partners.

However, you do not have to be sexually promiscuous to get HPV, and men are also able to contract the virus.

The CDC estimates that 50 percent of sexually active people will get HPV within their lifetime.

The vaccine is not intended to be used as a treatment of the virus.

To reduce chances of HPV diseases, talk to your doctor, get tested, get treated, shell out those precious dollars for the vaccine and talk to others about it.

Be careful, alert and have regular check-ups or else you may be the next victim of this cancer causing virus. Young women should have the opportunity to be protected from a virus that can negatively impact their lives and can kill them, and money should not be a problem. Insurance companies should re-examine their values and re–think this apparent loophole.

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