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November 2014 Archives

An Ebola Vaccine - But for Whom?

The push to develop a vaccine against the Ebola virus is on, and vaccination is going to be an important part of controlling this contagious disease. Phase 1 trials are slated to begin soon in the United States. Even if adequate safety and immunogenicity are demonstrated in the phase 1 studies, vaccines will not be available in substantial quantity until the first quarter of 2015 at the earliest. Even if an effective vaccine can be produced, it is not likely to be 100% effective to succeed in stemming the current or future outbreaks. There are different strains and the virus continues to mutate. While I agree that an Ebola vaccine is an important of the global strategy to control the virus, I do not agree that Americans should receive an Ebola vaccine and be subjected to the risk a serious adverse event or death, unless they are traveling to an endemic area. So why are we doing these Phase 1 trials on Americans?

Too Many Women Avoid Cervical Cancer Screening

More than 12,000 women a year get cervical cancer, yet up to 93% of these cancers are preventable. The Centers for Disease Control reports that up to 8 million American women have not been screened for cervical cancer in the last 5 years, which is approximately 10% of all women who are at risk for the disease. The Papanicoolaou (Pap) test screens for abnormal cells and is a time tested screening method for detecting cervical carcinoma. More recently, testing for HPV infection to identify women at high risk for the disease has also been added to the screening and detection process. HPV vaccination is also another important part of the cervical cancer reduction public health program; however, vaccination does not prevent against all cervical cancers, and screening is critical to early diagnosis. 

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