In the month that saw dramatic figures on the drop in HPV infections in the US, you might think the anti-vaccine crazies would keep quiet for a little while. You would, of course, be quite wrong. This blog post from Lifewise tells you all you need to know about the anti-vaccine movement.

  • They refer to Dr Diane Harper: “Dr. Diane Harper was the lead researcher in the development of the human papilloma virus vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix”. She has, they say, “come forward and question[ed] the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines”. There is a Dr Harper who thinks that the vaccines’ benefits are overstated. She never worked for GSK or Merck, has never (as far as I know) developed any vaccines and was, in fact, a researcher in some clinical trials. Dr Harper is never quoted as saying that she “has come clean so she can sleep at night” — this is the view of someone who heard the real Dr Harper express some reservations about vaccinating all girls — regardless of risk — with HPV vaccines. You can see a rather more accurate reflection of Dr Harper’s views in this NPR piece
  • The woman in their picture is not Dr Harper
  • The only actual quote from Dr Harper notes 98 percent of women can clear HPV infections from their body but says that, “in those cases where it doesn’t, and isn’t treated, it can lead to pre-cancerous cells which may develop into cervical cancer.” This is roughly true although Dr Harper’s original figure was 95 percent (see the NPR story). The post then goes on to attack the views of the expert they have just hyped saying, “when they report that untreated cases ‘can’ lead to something that ‘may’ lead to cervical cancer, it really means that the relationship is merely a hypothetical conjecture that is profitable if people actually believe it.” No, it means that no-one gets cervical cancer without being exposed to HPV; no HPV, no cervical cancer
  • The five percent of women who can’t clear the virus develop so much cervical cancer that it is the second most common cancer in women worldwide. This is, of course, not mentioned
  • The blogwriter says, “at the time of writing, 44 girls are officially known to have died from these vaccines. The reported side effects include Guillian Barré Syndrome (paralysis lasting for years, or permanently — sometimes eventually causing suffocation), lupus, seizures, blood clots, and brain inflammation.” In fact, the levels of adverse events in the placebo group in trials and in the group receiving the vaccine are almost identical as this excellent social media graphic shows

It is time to stop humouring the anti-vaccine lobby and treat them the way we treat people who believe that the earth is flat and that NASA is a giant fraud.