Anti-vaxxers push film that challenges science
THE anti-vaccination lobby is under fire for promoting a controversial "documentary", Sacrificial Virgins, which challenges the science behind Ian Frazer's celebrated Gardasil vaccine.
The film, made by British journalist Joan Shenton, who denies that HIV causes AIDS, will screen at seven locations in Australia next month, including Queensland.
But the film was widely condemned yesterday by doctors, politicians and bureaucrats.
A Queensland Health spokeswoman refused to comment on the "movie" except to say: "If anyone wants to watch a fantasy film we recommend Moana, it is currently on Netflix."
Queensland Health Minister Steven Miles said the claims made in Sacrificial Virgins were "not only ridiculous, they are irresponsible and dangerous".
"Most mums and dads take the important step of protecting their kids through vaccination," Mr Miles said. "It's the normal thing to do, the sensible thing to do."
Australian Medical Association Queensland president Dilip Dhupelia hit out at the anti-vaccination movement for pushing the film, saying it peddled unnecessary information and fear despite strong evidence the Gardasil vaccine had led to a worldwide decrease in cervical cancer.
"Anti-vaccination propaganda is dangerous and irresponsible and will ultimately cost lives," Dr Dhupelia said.
"The evidence that vaccination works and eradicates a number of diseases is very, very high."
Dr Dhupelia was backed by the AMA's federal president Tony Bartone, who described the film as "misleading and mischievous".
He said several hundred million doses of Gardasil had been dispensed worldwide and it had been proven to be safe and effective.
Gardasil, developed in Queensland by Professor Frazer and the late virologist Jian Zhou, protects against nine types of HPV which cause about 90 per cent of cervical cancer.
HPV also causes genital warts and cancers of the anus, mouth and throat.
The Gardasil vaccine is included in Australia's national immunisation program for girls and boys aged 10 and older.
AVN president Tasha David said she hoped the Sacrificial Virgins documentary would assist in getting the HPV vaccination program suspended from the national immunisation program.
But Mr Miles said Queensland was committed to improving HPV immunisation rates to protect girls and boys from HPV-related cancers.