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Three Shots at Prevention

Paperback
, 352 pages

9 halftones

ISBN:
9780801896729
August 2010
$30.00

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Three Shots at Prevention

The HPV Vaccine and the Politics of Medicine's Simple Solutions

In 2007, Texas governor Rick Perry issued an executive order requiring that all females entering sixth grade be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), igniting national debate that echoed arguments heard across the globe over public policy, sexual health, and the politics of vaccination. Three Shots at Prevention explores the contentious disputes surrounding the controversial vaccine intended to protect against HPV, the most common sexually transmitted infection.

When the HPV vaccine first came to the market in 2006, religious conservatives decried the government's approval of the vaccine as implicitly sanctioning teen sex and encouraging promiscuity while advocates applauded its potential to prevent 4,000 cervical cancer deaths in the United States each year. Families worried that laws requiring vaccination reached too far into their private lives. Public health officials wrestled with concerns over whether the drug was too new to be required and whether opposition to it could endanger support for other, widely accepted vaccinations. Many people questioned the aggressive marketing campaigns of the vaccine's creator, Merck & Co. And, since HPV causes cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, and anus, why was the vaccine recommended only for females? What did this reveal about gender and sexual politics in the United States? With hundreds of thousands of HPV-related cancer deaths worldwide, how did similar national debates in Europe and the developing world shape the global possibilities of cancer prevention?

This volume provides insight into the deep moral, ethical, and scientific questions that must be addressed when sexual and social politics confront public health initiatives in the United States and around the world.

Keith Wailoo is the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of History and the founding director of the Center for Race and Ethnicity at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He is the author of a number of award-winning books, including The Troubled Dream of Genetic Medicine and Drawing Blood: Technology and Disease Identity in Twentieth-Century America, both also published by Johns Hopkins. Julie Livingston is an associate professor of history at Rutgers, the author of Debility and the Moral Imagination in Botswana, and coeditor, along with Wailoo and Peter Guarnaccia, of A Death Retold: Jesica Santillan, the Bungled Transplant, and Paradoxes of Medical Citizenship. Steven Epstein is the John C. Shaffer Professor in Humanities, a professor of sociology, and a faculty affiliate in the Gender Studies Program and Science in Human Culture Program at Northwestern University. He has written several award-winning books, among them Inclusion: The Politics of Difference in Medical Research and Impure Science: AIDS, Activism, and the Politics of Knowledge. Robert Aronowitz is a professor in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Unnatural History: Breast Cancer and American Society and Making Sense of Illness: Science, Society, and Disease.

"Masterfully insightful and astute... This is a vital new text for undergraduate and graduate pedagogical programs focusing on the history and social-scientific analysis of health, medicine, science, technology, and society as well as a significant resource for debate within the policymaking arena and for instruction in public health and cancer prevention."

"Scholars and policymakers alike will draw lasting lessons from this timely, fascinating, and engaging collection on the controversial HPV vaccine."

"Well written and well researched. It is a valuable addition to the fields of public health, public policy, and pharmaceutical marketing."

"It deserves wide readership, particularly for graduate student seminars in public health, medical social science and history of science and medicine."

"An eminently readable examination of the turbulence surrounding this particular collision of science, commerce, and politics."

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