I think it's unfortunate that nowhere in this story did Ms. Wilson mention how highly successful Pap smears have been in the U.S. in reducing cervical cancer rates. Since their institution as a standard of care in the 1970s, Pap smears have reduced cervical cancer deaths dramatically in the U.S. Guttmacher Institute recently published data, as well, that showed the decrease in cervical cancer rates partly due to the Pap smear.
I think it's irresponsible to cover this vaccine and fail to mention this. It's a critical omission in Merck's promotion of the vaccine. It has value in countries where women do not regularly get gynecological care, but we have much cheaper interventions for reducing cervical cancer. Now, if Merck would honestly acknowledge that their vaccine protects against an STI that has high costs in morbidity, it would be a different promise and a different and more reasonable claim. I am disappointed that NPR did not fully report this information.
I just responded to NPR's story about the HPV vaccine for boys. I'm re-posting here because I have to do other things, but I'll work on elaborating my argument a little better soon...