Yet another breakthrough for women's cancers...but what about access?
There are plans of routinely offering this vaccine to schoolgirls aged 10-13, before they become sexually active (one hopes!) and can be at risk for transmitting the virus. It will take about a generation to see a really big reduction in rates of cervical cancer. Until the vaccine comes on the market, pap smears will continue to be the only way of identifying precancerous cells.
Pap smear rates in the United States are around 86%. Of course, there are huge problems with access to care because 15% of the country doesn't have health insurance. How would a vaccine change this? It will mean one shot and you're done, as opposed to having to go in every year for a pap smear. Health insurance will cover those with it...but what about the 10 million children in this country who don't have any insurance at all? Can't we expect our government to provide it for free to these kids so that they don't risk getting cervical cancer? The costs of treating cancer are far greater than preventing it, and this new vaccine is the ultimate example. It would be unjust to confine a devastating virus to a socio-economic group that is least equipped to cope with treating it.