Monday, January 08, 2007

Mandatory Vaccination

In the last few years, it was discovered that several strains of HPV (human papilloma virus) were directly responsible for the development of cervical cancer in some women. Though some strains cause visible warts, the cancer-causing strains do not. This makes them especially tough to ferret out, since there is no blood test available. The virus is typically identified from biopsies of the warts or from cervical scrapings. Thankfully, a vaccine for these strains was also developed in the last few years.

With all of that in mind, an Illinois legislator has proposed making HPV vaccination mandatory for 6th grade girls.

There are some parents who oppose the vaccine, and thus this plan, on moral grounds. They say it will convince their daughters they have a license to be promiscuous. While I don't think such arguments are too far-fetched, I do think such opposition is short-sighted.

As I said before, there is no blood test for the virus. Thus, someone can be a carrier and have no idea, men in particular. (Side note: Why isn't the vaccine being promoted for men, too? Who wants to say that they gave someone cancer?) This makes it easy to pass the virus around, especially since the research is ambiguous as to whether or not condoms prevent the spread of HPV.

I'm sorry parents, but eventually your daughters will become adults who make their own decisions, and the unfortunate reality is that most "adults" don't start off responsible enough to think about consequences that far in advance. How many college freshmen think about vaccinations before their first random hook-up?

Furthermore, the vaccine has yet to be approved for women older than 24 (or 26, I can't recall). By the time current 6th graders are that old, it may be, but you never know.

So, in conclusion, vaccination is a good idea, and I hope those parents don't make foolish decisions about their children's health. Now I just have to work past the fact that, for a change, I actually agreed with Planned Parenthood on something.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What I've heard is that HPV can live on various areas of the body, so no, condoms don't prevent HPV all of the time. That is, unless guys start wearing condoms over their balls and other areas. Simple contact can spread HPV. Intercourse isn't the only way it can be contracted. And you don't have to be irresponsible to contract HPV. A lot of times women can get HPV from a trusted partner, someone they love and be unaware--due to the fact that there is no blood test--of the fact that they may contract an STD. The sad fact is, since there's no real blood test, as you say, a woman will never know if her partner has it until he's given it to her.