The Politics and PR of Cervical Cancer

Many women, myself included, have been affected by cervical cancer or Human Papillomavirus (HPV) at some point in their lives. In this series of four articles, I will examine HPV and Gardasil — the facts, the hype, and what Merck stands to gain; the marketing campaigns promoting Gardasil in the U.S. and the media’s lack of attention to concerns about the rush to mandate vaccination; the role of the non-profit group Women In Government in promoting mandatory vaccination against HPV; and what is going on outside of the U.S. on this issue.

Setting the Stage: Part One in a Series on the Politics and PR of Cervical Cancer
Judith Siers-Poisson

This piece is worth reading because it is one of those often too rare moments of insightful self-criticism from a progressive point of view. I for one will admit to being completely caught up in the idea of a vaccine against cancer.

I thought the commercials were silly, too, mostly because it was hard to believe that no one had heard this ongoing story about a virus that can cause cancer. Why not put this vaccine on the list of childhood vaccines?

As Siers-Poisson shows in great detail there are lots of good reasons to re-think the vaccine. It doesn’t prevent many cancers at all, as it turns out. Most importantly, the hype behind the drug turn out to be one of those classic behind the scenes arrangements designed to ensure profits.

Merck has only about a year before competing vaccines appear, cutting its profits. “Merck’s greed, ” Siers-Poisson, concludes in the third of a four part series, “and the willingness of its partners to go along with an industry driven campaign, have compromised the actual promise of the vaccine.”

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Post Navigation