Monday, July 25, 2011

Vaccines and Hysteria

Bravo to this article:

STIs are not different than other diseases; the only difference is political, not biological. HPV in particular is ridiculous to politicize, since it's so common that it's wise to treat getting it as an inevitability if you don't get the vaccination. Indeed, the most important difference between the HPV vaccination and other vaccination isn't the sex stuff, but the fact that you probably get more individual protection from the HPV vaccination. Most people have measles and whooping cough vaccines, offering the unvaccinated herd immunity. But with the HPV vaccine, there's only 11% compliance, meaning that your unvaccinated kid's chance of getting HPV as an adult should still be treated as an inevitability. Sadly, we'll be seeing 4,000 deaths and 12,000 cases of cervical cancer a year for some time yet.
Disease is disease no matter how you get it.  Cervical cancer is cancer.  It is deadly and it is serious and it is not the least bit sexy.  Vaccines are good, unless side effects are worse and more prevelant than the disease being prevented.   The HPV vaccine prevents a disease, HPV, which is both a disease in and of itself and can turn into cervical cancer for women.  This vaccine has nothing to do about whether or not you are going to have sex at any point in your life.  News flash:  you can get the vaccine even if you NEVER, EVER HAVE SEX.  And we can be that much closer to eradicating one form of cancer.

This whole thing about sexifying the shot puzzles me.  I expect it from the anti-sex lunatic fringe who feel that the only "responsible" sex is between married couples who use no birth control and are financially able to care for any offspring of their wild and wanton behavior.   Think I'm exaggerating?  Check the latest reaction to the idea that birth control should be covered by insurance.  Apparently "consequence free" sex is not, as I had understood, the responsible way to have sex.  Au contraire, "consequence free" sex will destroy our society and makes the baby Jesus cry.  So of course, if you imbibe in that nasty HPV vaccine, you are eliminating one of the serious potential consequences for sex, and that is evil.  Are they by logical extension equating a baby with cervical cancer?  I digress.

Side note:  I once read a chick novel in which a medieval main character was convicted of heresy for attempting to use a rudimentary form of forceps to save the baby and the mother from pain and death in childbirth.  The argument was that God cursed women to pain and death in childbirth and any attempt to alleviate that was to go against God himself.  Sounds remarkably like the reasoning involved in the fundamentalist craptrap, no?
I have no daughters.  I have two baby boys.  These boys will one day have sex.  Shocker, I know.  My job is to make sure they are physically and emotionally ready to have sex before they actually have it.   By protecting them from pedophiles. By giving them "the talk" if D chickens out.  By ensuring that I raise them in a way that is respectful to other people of all genders and sexual orientations and those people's personal boundaries. And, yes, by giving them religious and philosophical instruction about the pros and cons of engaging in sexual behavior.  I also believe that this preparation means protecting them, or helping them protect themselves, from any disease.  It's my understanding that the vaccine is becoming available for boys as well as girls.  If that's the case, I believe it will be added to my son's vaccination schedule, both for their sake and their future spouse's. 

I have no idea what the future will bring for my sons, sexually.   They may choose to have only one or two partners. They may choose to wait until marriage.  They may choose to have homosexual and not heterosexual sex. They may choose to have sex with many different people.  Heaven help us, they may even choose to be priests and have no sex at all.  These choices will be theirs to make and will have nothing to do with the vaccine they got in grade school.  And I will love them with all my heart no matter what.

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