Thursday, October 23, 2008

The HPV Vaccine: Promoting Promiscuity at a School Near You

Okay little one, get on out there and spread those legs! Can you imagine saying that to your pre-pubescent daughter? Unthinkable. Not surprisingly, this is the message that the rigidly religious feel would be portrayed to our daughters if we choose to have them vaccinated with Gardasil or Cervarix, the recently approved HPV vaccines. How ridiculous. Once again, the belief in an invisible man prevents humankind from making sound decisions for the betterment of society.

HPV, or Human Papilloma Virus, is a sexually transmitted disease that is believed to cause most cancer of the cervix. The really scary thing about HPV is that it goes relatively undetected and most studies indicate that greater than half of the sexually active population, both men and women, has it. So, after considering these facts it is easy for any rational, intelligent individual to see that a safe vaccine against HPV is a revolutionary discovery. The problem lies in the lack of intelligence and rational thought that is generated in the minds of those that hold literal, unyielding religious beliefs.

Now listen, my issue here is not with informed people who question the efficacy of the vaccine. I understand that vaccines in general are a hot topic amongst parents and the efficacy studies on the HPV vaccine are, to my understanding, somewhat limited at this point. If I had a daughter right now, I wouldn't be lining her up to be vaccinated until studies become more conclusive on its efficacy and side effects. But this would be a result of my concerns regarding the vaccine's biological effects on my daughter, not a fear that she would suddenly become hornier than a three-peckered-billygoat. For the love of all things hypothetically holy, if this vaccine is found to be perfectly safe and as widely effective as current studies conclude, why would anyone choose to prevent their child from avoiding the wrath of cancer? Because having your daughter vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease promotes the sex that spreads the disease? Please! If you ask me, any 10-year -old girl who is told, "this needle will prevent you from getting sick from a bug that enters your body when you eventually have sex," is going to chalk that bug up as another reason to wait a while. If your daughter ends up having sex shortly after getting her HPV vaccine, it's more likely the result of the inherent challenges of monitoring her behaviour or a failure to educate her about the realities and risks of sexual activity than it could ever be the result of a life-saving vaccine. I have never seen a study on this, but in my experience, many teenage pregnancies occur to the daughters of strictly religious parents. There is no scientific validity to my observation. It's purely anecdotal and I could be wrong. But I would not be shocked to see such a study reveal that there is a scientifically significant correlation between the two.

This discussion has nothing to do with whether or not HPV vaccination should be legislated as mandatory or publically funded. As I said, it also has nothing to do with the recurring debate of whether or not vaccines are too readily administered without a true understanding of their efficacy and side effects. No, this debate is not even close to as complex as that. I just cannot understand how the reaction of a group of people who literally believe that a 900-year-old man built a boat, collected two of EVERY animal, insect, and flea on the planet, corralled them all onto that boat, and made them all have sex, carries any weight in the discussion of whether or not a life saving vaccine should be administered to our daughters. Call me irrational I guess.

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