HPV commercial sparks controversy

HPV commercial sparks controversy

Serra Raquel, Entertainment Editor

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HPV can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact and is most commonly transmitted through vaginal or anal sex. It is so common, that almost all men and women have it at some point in their lives, though some may show no signs or symptoms of the infection.

HPV most commonly goes away on its own without serious health problems. However, HPV can lead to problems including genital warts and cancer of the throat, cervix, vulva, vagina, penis or anus.

Merck, an American pharmaceutical company, has aired commercials persuading parents to get their kids vaccinated. However, the content of the commercial has proven to be controversial among some viewers.

The commercial depicts actor portrayals of young kids growing up to find out that they have contracted HPV. The young kids then speak directly to the camera as if it were their parents, asking their mom and dads if they knew that a vaccine existed that would have prevented the illness.

“I think they’re just trying to get the point across because it doesn’t seem like it’s in an accusatory tone,” senior Julian Chan said. “It’s just trying to inform them of the risks.”

The blunt approach of getting Merck’s point across that parents should get their children vaccinated has caused backlash from other viewers. Some are posting direct criticisms on social media.

Some have been outraged enough to start petitions, one of which is on the website thepetitionsite.com and titled “TELL THE FTC: Merck HPV Vaccine Television Commercial IS FALSE & MISLEADING.”

“Via this advertisement, Merck is claiming that HPV vaccines “could have” prevented HPV-related cancers, a claim of their products’ performance beyond that supported by available research,” James Lyons-Weiler, PhD., said in the petition’s description. “Because HPV-induced cancers can take 20-40 years to manifest, no study has been conducted that demonstrates a decrease in the rates of overall HPV-related cancer types. The actor’s age is inconsistent with the age at which an HPV-associated cancer may be expected to appear… No studies have shown a decrease in the rates of HPV-related cancers overall in humans.”

The petition received 6,086 supporters, but was not able to reach its goal of 10,000.

However, others believe the vaccine should be valued enough to even been required by schools.

Some of the required vaccines for children in the California school system include Measles, Mumps, Tetanus, Polio and Hepatitis B.

“I don’t think it would affect children as much as it would affect adults,” Chan said. “But I still think it should [be] recommended.”

Rhode Island, Virginia, and the District of Columbia mandate the HPV vaccine for children in secondary school.