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HPV Vaccine: For women over 26?

I still hold firm to the position I took at The Times Herald about the HPV vaccine Gardasil treating not just women - but also children as young as nine - as guinea pigs. But it seems that now, women over 26 years old who wholeheartedly believe the pharmaceutical giants claim to cure... errr, prevent the various cancer-causing strains are jumping on this bandwagon.

After a study funded by Merck, the Gardasil HPV vaccine producer, they claim women over 26 can now benefit from the shot.

Obviously not covered by insurance (because these women allegedly have the funds to ante up the cash), women over 30 are flocking to the idea of not having to deal with HPV - even if they may have already had it once. Since 80 percent of women will now be infected at least once, it seems like a slight no-brainer. Except that there are no claims that the HPV vaccine works for women over 26.

In a recent study published by the British Medical Journal (and funded by... guess who? Gardasil maker Merck), the vaccine was found to decrease reinfection in almost 50 percent of their trial patients. That fifty/fifty chance will not cure or fix an existing infection. Rather, it allegedly will keep them from coming back - half of the time.

Girls, the ever popular HBO TV show devoted an entire episode to HPV and CBS's Two Broke Girls crack some jokes about it. Now considered a mainstream STD that will - in most healthy girls and women - clear on its own (so they say though they don't really know where it goes). Cryotherapy, the act of freezing off the cancer causing HPV strains on the cervix, sometimes clears up. However, 10-15 percent of time it does not.

The FDA claims vaccinating women over 26 does not decrease cancer rates to make it worthwhile. So what's a girl to do? Get annual pap smears, especially if you are sexually active with multiple partners. And condoms - as good as they are - do not cover the entire exposed area but are a start.

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