When Michael Becker speaks, people listen.
They listen deeply. With their heart.
It’s not his charisma, communication skills, or his clout as a former biotech executive that makes people pay attention. It’s his life-changing message.
It’s a poignant message, one that commands respect and attention. It has the power to save lives and help parents make the right decisions.
He speaks about a virus that causes cancer and a vaccination that can protect against this virus.
Becker speaks to the drug industry and the public about his own cancer and what can be done to prevent other people from such a grim fate. “I urge all parents to talk to your child’s doctor about the HPV vaccine,” he shared on the STAT website.
One reason we do not view the human papillomavirus with concern or alarm is that it’s common. Since it is so prolific, most people dismiss an HPV infection as a mere wart, a skin or a mucous membrane growth.
However, there are more than a hundred types of human papillomavirus, often spreading from one person to another through direct skin contact, with some deadly strains causing cancer.
Genital HPV can cause cervical cancer, while other HPV strains can cause cancer of the oropharyngeal area (the vulva and the back of the throat), cancer of the sexual organs, or cancer of the anus.
Since FDA approved HPV vaccines like Gardasil 9 are so effective at protecting against strains of HPV causing cervical cancer or genital cancer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) routinely recommend preteen boys and girls around 11 or 12 years old get the vaccine, as this when they first develop sexual interests.
They point out to parents that taking the vaccine later or after an HPV infection, is likely to be less effective.
Early vaccination prevents the risk of cancer...and it may take decades for a person to get cancer from an HPV infection.
New Cases Exploding
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of cancers caused by HPV has exploded over the last decade. Each year, doctors find 42,700 cases of cancer in areas of the body infected with HPV.
Why Some Parents Refuse to Get HPV Vaccines for Their Preteens
There is a huge need for Michael Becker’s efforts to share his experiences. It’s much more than raising awareness that we can link HPV infections to cancer or informing people that there is a childhood vaccine to prevent cancer from appearing in adulthood.
What makes his message so urgent is that many parents already know about the vaccine but refuse to get their children vaccinated.
According to an in-depth article on Shot of Prevention, there are five common reasons why some parents refuse to protect their children against the risk of certain HPV strains and why these reasons don’t match up with the facts.
- Some parents feel that the HPV vaccine is unnecessary because their children will not become sexually active teenagers. Since 79 million Americans have HPV infections and 14 million get infected each year, the risk of getting it run high even if teenagers should wait to become sexually active in early adulthood.
- Some parents believe that PAP smears will detect any risk of cervical cancer. Even if women get regular PAP smears and it detects cancer, by the time it shows up in a PAP smear it’s too late to prevent HPV infection. All they can do is find medical treatment.
- Some parents believe that a vaccination is unnecessary since HPV will clear up on its own. Although it’s possible that an HPV infection will clear up after two years, there are two problems with this argument.
First, many people get an HPV infection and not know about it until it’s too late. Second, not all cases of HPV clear up, and it’s not possible to predict if this will happen.
- Some parents believe that a vaccination is insufficient because it does not prevent many HPV infections. The vaccination does not prevent all HPV infections, but it prevents the most dangerous ones, strains 16 and strains 18, which are the ones that cause cervical cancer and genital warts.
- Some parents believe that all vaccinations are dangerous based on their reading of conspiracy theories on the Internet. Health professionals administered about 57 million doses of HPV vaccination from 2006 to 2013.
If the vaccine was as dangerous as alternative news sources promulgate, then there would have been a massive health crisis. Instead, statistics suggest the opposite of what conspiracy theorists propose: statistics provide evidence about the safety of the vaccine.
Although the CDC has tried to educate people for years by sharing its information with the public about the risks of the human papillomavirus and a simple way to protect against it, patient advocates like Michael Becker, people who are living testaments to what happens when you don’t get the vaccination, may be the ones who finally convince stubborn parents to take the best course of action.
Powered by Froala Editor