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Open Access Debate

Ethical considerations of universal vaccination against human papilloma virus

Pedro Navarro-Illana1, Justo Aznar2* and Javier Díez-Domingo3

Author Affiliations

1 Facultad de Enfermería, Universidad Católica de Valencia “San Vicente Mártir”, Valencia, Spain

2 Instituto de Ciencias de la Vida, Universidad Católica de Valencia “San Vicente Martir”, Valencia, Spain

3 Vaccine Research Department, FISABIO-Public Health, Valencia, Spain

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BMC Medical Ethics 2014, 15:29  doi:10.1186/1472-6939-15-29

Published: 7 April 2014

Abstract

Background

From an epidemiological perspective, the practice of universal vaccination of girls and young women in order to prevent human papilloma virus (HPV) infection and potential development of cervical cancer is widely accepted even though it may lead to the neglect of other preventive strategies against cervical cancer.

Discussion

It is argued that removing the deterrent effect – the fear of developing cancer – could encourage teenage sex. This paper reflects on the ethical legitimacy of the universal vaccination of girls and young women against HPV infection, especially regarding safety issues, the need to vaccinate people who have opted to abstain from sex, the presumption of early onset of sexual relations, the commercial interests of the companies that manufacture the vaccine, and the recommendation of universal vaccination in males.

Summary

Based on the aforementioned information, we believe that the universal vaccination against HPV in young women is acceptable from an ethical point of view, given the medical advantages it presents.

Keywords:
Human papilloma virus; HPV; Universal vaccination; Ethical assessment