Student & Teacher Research Initiative
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HPV (human papilloma virus)

The vaccine:  HPV vaccine - brand name Gardasil and Gardasil 9.

The claim: "Gardasil protects against the two types of HPV, between them responsible for more than 70% of cervical cancers in the UK." [1] " GARDASIL®9 (Human Papillomavirus 9-valent Vaccine, Recombinant) helps protect girls and women ages 9 to 26 against cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers and genital warts caused by 9 types of HPV. GARDASIL 9 helps protect boys and men ages 9 to 26 against anal cancer and genital warts caused by those same HPV types." [9]

Why is it offered to students?

Gardasil is offered free on the NHS to girls up to the age of 18, because, according to the NHS "the HPV virus is very common and is easily spread by sexual activity. As much as half the population will be infected at some time in their life." [1] Older females and males may also acquire the injections privately.

The facts:

Although the HPV virus is indeed very common, in the overwhelming majority of cases, it causes absolutely no problems and is cleared by the body naturally. [1] Furthermore, new evidence is emerging suggesting the HPV virus may not in fact cause cancer at all. A paper recently published in the journal Molecular Cytogenetics showed that all cervical cancer cells investigated during the course of the study contained "new abnormal karyotypes". The genetic makeup of these new abnormal karyotypes indicates the cervical cancers originated with these karyotypes – NOT from a virus. [2]

In addition, one of the lead developers for the vaccine, Dr. Diane Harper, has publicly spoken out questioning its efficacy. Dr. Harper says young girls and their parents should receive more complete warnings before receiving the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.  Dr. Harper states data available for Gardasil shows that it lasts five years; there is no data showing that it remains effective beyond five years. [3] That means that were a 16-year-old student to receive this vaccine, any benefit would have worn off by the time they turned 22.

What the numbers say:

In first-world countries such as the UK, cervical cancer is not a common cancer. It falls twelfth in the list, far behind other cancers such as breast and lung. [4] By far the majority of new cervical cancer cases are in the less developed world. These cases account for over 85% of all new cases worldwide. [5]

Further, as with all vaccines, the HPV vaccine does not confer full or lasting immunity to everyone who receives it, and there have been several cases of girls acquiring cervical cancer, despite having received the HPV vaccine, such as Jess Bradford and Kirstie Wilson. Both girls were given the HPV vaccine, then diagnosed with cervical cancer whilst still in their teens. [6]

The risks and side effects of the vaccine:

The HPV vaccine Gardasil (and its predecessor, Cervarix) have proven particularly controversial, with a very wide range of adverse reactions reported. These include, but are not limited to: seizures, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, ME, CFS, and premature ovarian failure. [7]

Many concerned parents and activists have spoken out about this vaccine, and their stories have been featured in the Independent, the Scotsman and the Herald Scotland.

Vaccine ingredients:

Gardasil contains:

Proteins of HPV Types 6, 11, 16, and 18;

Amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate;

Yeast protein;

Sodium chloride;


Polysorbate 80;

Sodium borate;

Water for injection.

Gardasil 9 contains:

Proteins of HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58;

Amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate;

Yeast protein;

Sodium chloride: 


Polysorbate 80;

Sodium borate;

Water for injection.

Can I reduce my risk of cervical cancer without getting the vaccine?

Yes. The World Health Organisation states that risk factors for the development of cervical cancer include:

  • Early first sexual intercourse;
  • Multiple sexual partners;
  • Tobacco use;
  • Immune suppression (for example, HIV-infected individuals are at higher risk of HPV infection and are infected by a broader range of HPV types) [8]

So if you are young (under 18), consider delaying sexual activity until you are older. In adulthood, limit your number of sexual partners, practice safer sex, and avoid smoking and other tobacco products.

Also ensure that once you have reached the age of 25, you have regular Pap smears.

STRIVE opinion - is it worth getting this vaccine?

No. STRIVE strongly advises against this vaccine. It has only been on the market a very short time (the HPV vaccination programme was launched in 2008), and as such, we simply do not have the data to paint a full picture. As yet, there is no evidence the HPV vaccination programme has prevented a single case of cancer, whereas the reports of serious adverse effects from the vaccine are unusually high. Cervical cancer is in itself a rare cancer in first world countries, and the link between HPV infection and cervical cancer is not clearly causative. As for all vaccines, we advise you do as much research as possible, read the package insert (linked below), and talk to your healthcare professional before reaching a decision.