The city’s biggest skeptics are tackling the HPV vaccine during a presentation on Saturday.
The Kamloops Centre for Rational Thought is teaming up with B.C. Cancer Agency health economist and renowned Vancouver blogger Ian Cromwell for a lecture on cervical cancer screening, the human papillomavirus (HPV) and the HPV vaccine.
“Come hear the myths and the reality, and be regaled by tales of misinformation and fear mongering,” states the open invitation.
As an example, the group points to the Catholic News Agency’s story about Canadian Catholic bishops’ concerns over the HPV vaccine “conveying the wrong message about premarital sex.”
The general consensus among Centre for Rational Thought members and its larger organization, the Centre for Inquiry Canada, is that the HPV vaccine can have positive health benefits.
“This vaccine can literally prevent two of the most deadly types of cervical cancer,” said Erin Mitchell, a member of the Centre for Inquiry and writer of the Dear Aunty column for Kamloops Momma Magazine.
“This is why it’s so important that teenagers as well as their parents, guardians, teachers and support providers come to learn the facts about the vaccine as well as how HPV is transmitted, how HPV impacts men and who should be vaccinated.”
The Centre for Rational Thought holds a monthly speaking series, and Saturday will be Cromwell’s second visit.
Cromwell’s lecture The HPV Vaccine and You: What you need to know to make an informed choice is open to people of all ages, free to members of the Centre for Inquiry, and $5 for all others.
The event runs from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Desert Garden Community Centre, 540 Seymour St.
HPV was in the news this week when the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care said women aged 25 to 69 should undergo cervical screening only every three years rather than the previously suggested annual screening.
And women under 25 shouldn’t be screened at all.
“Doing it every year doesn’t really add very much (protection) but it adds a lot of inconvenience and some harm,” said Dr. James Dickinson, a professor of family medicine at the University of Calgary who chaired the task force working group.
In younger women, abnormal test results are not uncommon due to lesions caused by infections with HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.
Many of those lesions heal on their own and do not go on to become cancer. But once found, women often undergo additional testing and treatments, some of which can make it hard for a woman to carry a pregnancy to term later.