Spreading the news of the cervical cancer vaccine

Most will learn this important public health information from the drug company:

The scientists and researchers who made and tested these incredibly promising vaccines will probably not be deciding the best way to educate men and women about cervical cancer, or how to plan for affordable global distribution that is now, more than ever, the right thing to do.

Regrettably, some of those decisions have already been made — in pharmaceutical company boardrooms — and we can now see the opening act of another sophisticated “ask your doctor” advertising campaign on the evening news. This one begins with a well-dressed, hip young woman who reflects, while contemplating the middle distance: “There’s a common virus that can cause cancer? I didn’t know that!”

Maybe she didn’t. But here, where public health was born, and where the knowledge that HPV causes cancer has been around for almost two decades, it’s a crying shame she has to learn it from a drug company.

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