Bachmann Politicizes Cervical Cancer
Posted on Sep 15, 2011
Doctors, public health officials and academics spoke out this week in support of the HPV vaccine after Michele Bachmann thoughtlessly railed against it.
Bachmann claimed the vaccine against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus was a “very dangerous drug” that could lead to “mental retardation.” But after a barrage of criticism from even some of her own adoring fans, Bachmann admitted that she may not have been qualified to make such a statement.
About 6 million Americans become infected with HPV each year and more than 4,000 women die of cervical cancer. Someone should explain to Bachmann the difference between fact and fiction. —BF
Professor Gregory Zimet, co-leader of the cancer control programme at Indiana University, said of Bachmann’s comments: “People will say there’s no evidence for it and that is true, there is no evidence. But I would go further: Bachmann is absolutely wrong.”
He added: “Part of the issue will be how long the discussion is prominent in the news. If this is brought up every time the Republican candidates have a debate, if misinformation is repeatedly expressed and covered nationally, it can have a negative effect.”
The uptake of the vaccine has already suffered a major backlash in the US in response to what some critics viewed as an overly aggressive marketing strategy and anxiety from the religious right that the vaccine would promote sexual promiscuity among young girls.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend that girls receive the HPV vaccine at the of age 11 or 12, before they begin having sex.
AP / Mike Carlson
Rep. Michele Bachmann pontificates during Monday’s Republican presidential debate in Tampa, Fla.