According to LifeWise, “Dr. Diane Harper was the lead researcher in the development of the human papilloma virus vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix. She is the latest to come forward and question the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines.

The article cited above states:

Dr. Harper explained in her presentation that the cervical cancer risk in the U.S. is already extremely low, and that vaccinations are unlikely to have any effect upon the rate of cervical cancer in the United States. In fact, 70% of all H.P.V. infections resolve themselves without treatment in a year, and the number rises to well over 90% in two years. Harper also mentioned the safety angle.


In fact, there is no actual evidence that the vaccine can prevent any cancer. From the manufacturers own admissions, the vaccine only works on 4 strains out of 40 for a specific venereal disease that dies on its own in a relatively short period, so the chance of it actually helping an individual is about about the same as the chance of him being struck by a meteorite.

The article mentions the reaction of some who were at a talk she gave in 2008, including:

Her speech was supposed to promote the Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines, but she instead turned on her corporate bosses in a very public way. When questioned about the presentation, audience members remarked that they came away feeling that the vaccines should not be used.

“I came away from the talk with the perception that the risk of adverse side effects is so much greater than the risk of cervical cancer, I couldn’t help but question why we need the vaccine at all.” – Joan Robinson

The only direct quote to Dr. Harper is:

“About eight in every ten women who have been sexually active will have H.P.V. at some stage of their life. Normally there are no symptoms, and in 98 per cent of cases it clears itself. But in those cases where it doesn’t, and isn’t treated, it can lead to pre-cancerous cells which may develop into cervical cancer.” - Dr. Diane Harper

Was Dr. Diane Harper the lead researcher for these vaccines, and do her comments amount to a refutation of the (unmentioned) evidence that the HPV vaccines reduce the risk of cervical cancer?

  • 1
    Are you asking us to judge whether what she said counts as a "refutation"?
    – user5582
    Jul 5, 2013 at 18:14
  • Is anyone claiming that Dr. Harper presented a refutation? Or only that Joan came away with the perception that the risk of side effects is greater than the risk of cervical cancer?
    – user5582
    Jul 5, 2013 at 18:18
  • @Sancho - Yes, I think the core claim ought to include whether Dr. Harper communicated - by way of what's quoted here or otherwise - that the HPV vaccine is not worthwhile. Do you agree think that's how the claim should be stated? Or is there something missing? Jul 5, 2013 at 18:51
  • 1
    I would be loath to believe anything that this site said. "Natural medicine" and "Chemtrails" are not just mentioned, but have enough articles to warrant entire categories. I realize my argument is a sort of logical fallacy, but at the same time, believing in these topics is also an indicator of lunacy.
    – Ernie
    Jul 5, 2013 at 19:51
  • 2
    For context, have a look at new results. The vaccine is so ridiculously effective that there can be no debate about it being beneficial (the caveats in Compro’s answer notwithstanding). Jul 6, 2013 at 21:55

1 Answer 1


According to a 2009 CBS interview, Dr. Harper's concerns about HPV vaccines are over the lack of data about the duration of protection and the way the vaccines are being advertised.

Available data shows the vaccines are effective for at least 5 years, but effectiveness beyond that is unknown, and Dr. Harper's opinion is that to have a meaningful effect on cervical cancer rates, the vaccine would need to be effective for at least 15 years.

"If we vaccinate 11 year olds and the protection doesn't last... we've put them at harm from side effects, small but real, for no benefit," says Dr. Harper. "The benefit to public health is nothing, there is no reduction in cervical cancers, they are just postponed, unless the protection lasts for at least 15 years, and over 70% of all sexually active females of all ages are vaccinated.

She also expresses concern that Merck's marketing of the vaccine could provoke a false sense of security and cause women to forgo pap smears and other screening tests.

"The future expectations women hold because they have received free doses of Gardasil purchased by philanthropic foundations, by public health agencies or covered by insurance is the true threat to cervical cancer in the future. Should women stop Pap screening after vaccination, the cervical cancer rate will actually increase per year. Should women believe this is preventive for all cancers - something never stated, but often inferred by many in the population-- a reduction in all health care will compound our current health crisis. Should Gardasil not be effective for more than 15 years, the most costly public health experiment in cancer control will have failed miserably."

I'm not seeing anything she says that would reasonably constitute "coming out against it" or declaring it to be "dangerous and untested".

Additionally, analysis of adverse effect reports suggests that Gardasil's rate of adverse effects isn't much different than other vaccines, though they did note increased rates of syncope (fainting) and venous thromboembolic events, though further analysis of the latter suggests that the vast majority of those cases had other risk factors in play, such as tobacco and birth control use.

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