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Religious groups overcome objections to cervical cancer vaccines

WASHINGTON - Conservative groups in the United States, who had voiced vociferous protests against the proposed general availability of the "morning-after" pill, are now having no such qualms about the introduction of cervical cancer vaccines.//

These vaccines manufactured by Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline are still in the experimental stage and are years away from the market, but concerns had been voiced about them promoting promiscuity among young adult girls.

The thing with cervical cancer is that it is almost always caused by the Human Papilloma Virus or the HPV, which spreads exclusively by sexual contact. Religious groups had feared that introducing these vaccines would promote uninhibited sexual activity among teenaged girls, but these concerns have now been largely addressed and religious organizations are in fact beginning to see the wisdom behind the introduction of these vaccines. "We think it's a great idea to have this vaccine," said Dr. Gene Rudd, associate executive director of the Christian Medical and Dental Association. He added that should the vaccines be made generally available, they would recommend it to all and sundry. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, a New York Democrat and seen as the front runner for the Presidential election in 2008 was vociferous in campaigning for the introduction of these vaccines, "We do not want to see another instance of ideology trumping the health and well-being of the American people," she wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt.

Merck's vaccine has shown huge promise and could be the first on the market as it is effective against two most common strains of HPV. "You can't get HPV through casual contact, and if you limit your sexual behavior ... you're not going to have to worry about HPV," said Dr. Hal Wallis of the Physicians Consortium, which advocates abstinence until marriage. He feels that the vaccine should be limited to those girls or women who have th e risk of having multiple sexual partners.

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