ANTI-VACCINATION activists are planning to screen a documentary in Fremantle this month that’s so controversial the film-maker was recently prevented from entering Australia.
Joan Shenton’s documentary Sacrificial Virgins claims HPV vaccines Gardasil and Cervarix don’t prevent the cancers they’re supposed to and are instead responsible for causing neurological damage in thousands of young woman.
Ms Shenton was planning to tour Australia with the film, but the immigration department took her visa application in for “manual assessment” and it was delayed so long she had to cancel.
Although the immigration department won’t discuss the case, federal health minister Greg Hunt last week denounced the film as “false and reckless”.
The tricky thing for authorities is that despite a nation-wide vaccination program against the human papillomavirus (HPV) being introduced in Australia in 2007, it hasn’t so far made a dent in cervical cancer rates. In fact, while the number of cases halved between 1982 and 2002 as a nationally organised pap smear program was rolled out, they’ve since flatlined.
But Cancer Council WA’s cancer prevention and research director Melissa Ledger says that was expected, as there’s a lag between women catching the HPV virus and symptoms of cancer appearing.
A report published earlier this year which included researchers from Sydney and Melbourne universities found cancer rates were likely to start dropping by 2020 and then decrease by up to 45 per cent by 2035.
“But there have already been noticeable improvements with other HPV-related diseases,” Ms Ledger says.
“Genital warts have a much shorter timeframe for appearing after the infection, and there has been a noted decline in the number of cases.”
She says this will also improve as the new vaccine Gardasil 9 is introduced, as it targets five additional HPV types which are frequently detected in cervical cancers.
The World Health Organisation has also rejected any link between the vaccines and widespread illness.
“The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety has systematically investigated safety concerns raised about HPV vaccines … to date, it has not found any safety issue that would alter its recommendations for the use of the vaccine.
Ms Shenton will reportedly answer questions via a video link at the Fremantle event, which is being held on Saturday September 15, though the venue is being kept secret to keep protesters away.
“Sacrificial Virgins – so named because the vaccine is often given to girls and boys before they become sexually active – exposes evidence from top scientists and medical professionals of serious neurological damage following HPV injections,” reads the publicity blurb for the film.
“It calls for the vaccine to be withdrawn in the hope that this will halt a growing global tragedy.”
by STEVE GRANT