Wednesday, February 28, 2007

HPV Vaccination Flap

I'm sure most of you have heard about the controversy regarding vaccinating pre-teen girls for HPV in order to stave off potential cervical cancer resulting from said HPV. No, scratch that. The flap is not really about the vaccine, but about being required to vaccinate pre-teen girls.

After all, some people have doubts about the safety of a lot of vaccines (especially ones without longer term testing), others don't like being told how to run their family's medical life, and others feel that this is probably unduly influenced by Big Pharma's interests. Or some combination thereof. And then there's the perennial discomfort with the idea of our children ever, ever, EVER having sex, let alone preparing them for it (in any way) during middle school.

But you know, I probably would go get it myself if I were magically transported back to being 18--not that they had the vaccine way way back then.

I guess my question would be, why would they make this mandatory only for girls? Who do they think most of those girls are going to contract HPV from? If it's going to be mandatory (and I'm not certain it should be), then boys better be mandated to have it, too.

Okay, and then there are articles such as this one that states that gay men are voluntarily going to get the vaccine (leave it to the gay community to be at the forefront of sexual health practices), and the doctor in it who states:
“I would be interested to see the response of suggesting to parents that they should vaccinate their boys at 12 in case they become gay.” [italics mine]

Okay, leaving out the entire discussion about the "become gay" that why we'd vaccinate boys? Just in case they "become gay"?! So, we don't care if they carry the virus and have genital warts themselves, and then pass that virus on to a girl or girls, who then end up with cancer--the only reason to vaccinate a boy would be in case of possible gayness.

But you know, the doctor is right. That is exactly what a lot of parents are going to think, and why they'll balk at vaccinating their sons, rather than one of those other, more rational reasons.


eronston said...

I think they are pushing this for women only because they are selling it as a "cure for cervical cancer" and not as a preventive measure for contracting an STD. I was actually surprised that this initiative did not meet more resistance. I live in Virginia, and our state legislative body is currently dominated by conservative republicans who successfully last year (until it was eventually overturned) legislated to ban birth control pills from being distributed by clinics on public universities, yet these same legislators proposed and approved the mandatory HPV vaccine.

Interesting about the gay men, though.

liz said...

Well, yes--I see the cervical cancer link.

But seeing that the HPV is the prelude to the cancer, why ignore half the population of the disease vector? We inoculate those who will spread disease, not just those who will die from it.

I don't understand the ambivalent stance, either--it's kind of like, say, being "pro-life" but "pro-death penalty."

Melanie said...

I listened to an excellent show about the HPV Vaccine on NPR's On Point the other day.

I found the people who called in to be the most interesting.

There was talk about vaccinating boys and the vaccine being a license for promiscuity.

Take a listen.