In 39 States, Girls in the Juvenile Justice System are Being “Offered” HPV Vaccines


I just read a troubling article about the fact that young women in 39 states are being “offered” the HPV vaccines through the juvenile justice system.

SaneVax reports:

Under the guise of “protecting high-risk girls,” HPV vaccinations are being ‘offered’ to girls within the juvenile justice system. On the surface, this sounds like a laudable goal.

In the United States, informed consent for medical services is supposed to be a right we all enjoy. The SaneVax Team believes the advertising campaigns run by the manufacturers of HPV vaccines do little to promote the notion of informed consent, and ‘offering’ a vaccine to girls who probably believe their future within the juvenile justice system depends on their decision is not exactly the epitome of the concept of ‘informed consent.’

According to an article in Science Daily, “… most states that offer the HPV vaccine, the state or facility superintendent is authorized to consent for vaccination with the adolescent’s agreement. Other states initially seek out or require some form of parental consent in order to administer the vaccine.” (visit http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/10042811081 … for details)

I am uneasy whenever the state becomes involved in health decisions.  Young women in custody are under the full control of the state.  I am deeply troubled by this notion: “most states that offer the HPV vaccine, the state or facility superintendent is authorized to consent for vaccination with the adolescent’s agreement.”   Why would the young woman refuse if she is being asked by the state to take the vaccine?  The power imbalance here precludes any idea of free will.

The team at SaneVax asks a series of important questions about this issue:

The SaneVax Team wants to know if these girls are told that most HPV infections clear on their own without medical intervention. We want to know if these ‘high-risk’ girls are being told that the rate of cervical cancer in the United States is only 8.1/100,000?  We want to know if these girls are fully informed about the potential side effects of HPV vaccinations. We want to know whether these girls are offered the already proven safe and effective method of detecting pre-cancerous lesions, Pap smears.

The Young Women’s Empowerment Project partnered with the Committee on Women, Population and the Environment to put out a  Statement on Gardasil that is an essential read.  It directly relates to the topic at hand.

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About chicagogirltalk

We are a group of women who are working together to support young women who are incarcerated in our local juvenile jail.

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