Wednesday, June 14, 2006

AlterNet Misleads on the Issue of the HPV Vaccination

Today this AlterNet article was posted in the internet debate group, of which I am a member...following is how I addressed it (and this is just an excerpt of the AlterNet article):

Why the Religious Right Fights Cancer Prevention

By Gene Gerard, Truthdig
Posted on June 13, 2006, Printed on June 14, 2006

The Food and Drug Administration advisory panel approved a vaccine for the human papilloma virus (HPV) last week. The vaccine appears to be 100 percent effective at protecting against the most prevalent viruses that cause cervical cancer. While public health professionals view the vaccine as miraculous, many conservative organizations oppose it on the grounds that it might encourage promiscuity among adolescent girls. Now that the FDA has approved the vaccine, conservatives are already working feverishly to limit or even prevent its use.

Alternet uses this blog link: Feministing as their source proof that "conservatives are already working feverishly to limit or even prevent" the use of the new HPV vaccine...please point to any statement made by Dr. Finger which offers to limit or prevent it's use:

June 08, 2006

Are we Finger fucked?

Contributed by
Madeline Halperin-Robinson

Merck just announced that the FDA has approved their HPV vaccine, Gardasil. This should be great news, but we all know that nothing is simple these days in matters of public policy and women’s health.

The real battle over the vaccine will be in the coming weeks as the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) issues their recommendations for how the vaccine should be administered. While the ACIP decisions are non-binding, its recommendations set the standard by which states decide if they will mandate vaccination, insurance companies choose to cover the cost, and doctors decide how to advise their patients. Their decision on June 29 will determine whether or not we will be on our way to eradicating an STI that affects 80% of women by age 50 and is at the root of almost all cases of cervical cancer.

The only member of the 15-member panel to publicly state his opinion about making the vaccine routinely available is Reginald Finger. Dr. Finger nominated himself to the ACIP after the ultra-conservative Focus on the Family was asked to provide a list of scientists to nominate for various federal boards. Dr. Finger (sorry, I can’t get over that name) describes himself as a liaison between the CDC and Focus on the Family. He says, “Focus on the Family wants to have good relationships at CDC - and I can help make those happen.”

He has also said that if “people begin to market the [HPV] vaccine or tout the vaccine that this makes adolescent sex safer, then that would undermine the abstinence-only message.” For the record, Finger would also be wary of approving an HIV vaccine, should one become available.

Sigh. I hope the other 14 members of the ACIP will make their decision based on science and public health. The Family Research Council weighed in at the last ACIP meeting, so you should submit written comments to the ACIP before their June 29 hearing:

Advisory Committee on Immunization PracticesCenters for Disease Control and
Prevention1600 Clifton Road, NEMS E-05Atlanta, Georgia 30333

Posted by Ann at 02:37 PM in Health , Politics , Reproductive Rights

Here are a few excerpts from Dr. Finger's interview with "The Sharpshooter," the link is provided in "Feministing," AlterNet's source, under the hot link for "Reginald Finger:"

"...I helped defend the National Immunization Survey when Congress almost
canceled it. In 1996, I was at the meeting in Atlanta where we decided that
global eradication of measles was a thinkable concept...."

"...Q The Sharpshooter: So how did your appointment to the ACIP come about? And what is the ACIP?

A Dr. Finger: The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is appointed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to work with CDC to set immunization policy for the nation. We look at the safety, effectiveness, and costs of vaccines, new and old, and the epidemiology of diseases that can be prevented by vaccination, and hammer out recommendations and schedules for the use of each vaccine. These are then accepted and published by CDC. My appointment came about because a little over a year ago, Focus on the Family was asked—along with a number of other organizations—to line up a list of qualifiedscientists to suggest to Secretary Thompson for service on various federal boards. My bosses here gave the assignment to me and kindly suggested that I put my own name on the list. So I did—and this spring HHS called and asked if I would serve onthe ACIP! It was a marvelous opportunity and I jumped at the chance...."

In the interview, Dr. Finger has this

"...Q The Sharpshooter: Did you take on smallpox or influenza for a subcommittee assignment within ACIP?

A Dr. Finger: No I didn’t, because these are very complex issues and have lots of people working on them already. My approach was much like a freshman legislator’s might be—to pick an important but less visible issue and try to become expert on it. So I picked—meningococcal disease...."

"Feministing" blog goes on to state: "He has also said that if “people begin to market the [HPV] vaccine or tout the vaccine that this makes adolescent sex safer, then that would undermine the abstinence-only message.”"

And, while Dr. Finger certainly did say that, if you click on the link "also said" and read "The Hill" article the real issue seems to be whether the vaccine should be MANDATORY, which is what the vaccine maker would like, they'd like the government to MANDATE it's use. Finger is doing his job by discussing the uses for the HPV shot...that IS why he is a member of ACIP, after all. Here are some excerpts from that link from "The Hill" CDC panel discussing uses for HPV shot:

"...Democrats worry conservatives’ qualms could cause roadblocks similar to the two-year battle surrounding approval of the emergency contraceptive Plan B as an over-the-counter drug.

Conservatives say they welcome the vaccine but worry the ACIP could recommend making it mandatory for school-age children because it would violate parents’ rights.

“That’s something that should be left up to parents to decide,” said Wendy Wright, executive vice president of conservative Concerned Women for America.

A spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a physician who is widely known for his pro-abstinence stances, agreed.

“[Coburn] just thinks it should be made available and that doctors would counsel parents and kids together and that it not be mandatory,” said spokesman John Hart. “Women have the right to access the vaccine, and parents in the case of underage kids should have informed consent about what the vaccine could and could not do.”

Other conservatives say abstinence is the most effective defense against HPV and worry that administering a mandatory HPV vaccine could give a false sense of security for teenagers engaging in premarital sex.

“If people begin to market the vaccine or tout the vaccine that this makes adolescent sex safer, then that would undermine the abstinence-only message,” said Reginald Finger, a member of the ACIP and a former medical adviser for the pro-abstinence Focus on the Family...."

XXX, would you argue that discussion and overview of this issue is unhealthy? Or do you just dislike it when the discussion is coming from what you view as "Conservative" Christians?

There's more...from the "Hill" article:

“...We’re hearing from a lot of different groups across the spectrum of their
support for Gardasil as a vaccine,” Dougherty said, adding that conservative
groups such as the Medical Institute for Sexual Health have expressed support for the vaccine, despite press reports indicating opposition. “We are all working to reduce the risk of cervical cancer....”

I guess it's just not okay to voice concerns and discuss uses of a vaccine and issues such as how it can be marketed or utilized in such a way that children will not get a false sense of security that it will make promiscuous sex "safer," when in truth, yes, it may make it safer in that one regard, but it is certainly still not safe...but bring that issue up and you'll be accused of trying to keep a good vaccine from the people and refusing to allow the vaccine to be used at all and painted with a broad brush suggesting that the "Religious Right is fighting against Cancer Prevention" Lol...give me a break, XXX....and this is why your source "Alternet" is laughable.

Oh, in the "Hill" article Hillary Clinton is quoted:

“I am also concerned that ACIP’s reputation may be sullied if their
recommendations are seen as politically biased,” Clinton wrote."

If she's so concerned that ACIP's reputation may be sullied if their
recommendations are SEEN as politically biased then why is she promoting the idea that it is politically biased to even DISCUSS this issue? Geesh, what a maroon.