To Women's Health

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"What To Do About HPV?" [October 29] showed a healthy skepticism concerning the new hyped-up vaccine, Gardasil, designed to protect against some strains of papillomavirus, a known cause of cervical cancer.

It will not be the first vaccine to have problems. With the hpv vaccine, we are attempting to prevent a behavioral problem without addressing the problem. Cervical cancer is largely a problem of sexually active women. Infection is a byproduct of that behavior. Do we have to assume that inevitably all 11-year-old girls are going to be sexually active in the future? I agree with the article's author that it would be good to talk this over with her daughter when the time comes.

Ralph Campbell, M.D.


Polson, Mont.  

According to Judicial Watch, a public interest group, the FDA has received more than 3,400 complaints of adverse reactions to Gardasil, the hpv vaccine. Most were cited in manufacturer Merck's warnings. However, about 23 percent of the complaints involved more alarming reactions. How is it that this product is being recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the government will pick up the cost of initial vaccinations for uninsured minors? Why is it allowed to be on the market? Are profits more important than the safety of our young women?

Ray and Shirley Duggan


Hamburg, N.Y.  

As a 74-year-old grandma, I wonder why there is any question about whether or not to give the HPV vaccine. The article's discussion revolved around questions about voluntary sex in the future. It seems logical that females should also be protected in the case of rape.

Nancy K. Murray


Lakewood, Colo.  

As "Solving Insomnia" [October 29] notes, "29 percent of women take sleeping pills or other sleep aids regularly." Specialists need to find treatments that are more acceptable to patients. Specialists also need to do research with primary-care physicians to integrate management of sleep problems into the crowded agenda of a primary-care office visit. Pharmaceutical companies could also do more, too. Though I saw ads for sleeping pills, I didn't see any for cognitive-behavior therapy in your issue.

Daniel C. Vinson, M.D.


Family and Community Medicine
University of Missouri
Columbia  

"Gain Against the Pain" [October 29] discusses mainly new medicines as possible relief for fibromyalgia. What about adequate nutrition? Twenty-five years ago, I lost 20 pounds in a few months and was painfully, severely crippled for two years, when all my muscles atrophied as well. Recovery began when I started on a diet for an autoimmune intestinal celiac condition and stayed with it. My health is excellent now, and I'm a competitive ballroom dancer.

Penny Parker


Atlanta