Monday, October 31, 2005

I'm not making this up—Part III

I don’t care if it will save your life, this is sex we’re talking about —Some 10,000 women get cervical cancer every year and although the introduction of the Pap Smear test has greatly increased the survivability of the disease, cervical cancer still kills almost 4,000 of them. So if someone produced a vaccine that could be injected in every girl just before puberty that would absolutely prevent her from ever coming down with this cancer, that would be a good thing, yes? We could almost eradicate cervical cancer entirely. Wonderful, right?

Such a vaccine apparently now exists. It has shown in tests to be virtually 100% effective in blocking the human papilloma virus (HPV), the leading cause of cervical cancer in the U.S. Merck & Co., one of two firms that developed the vaccine, will ask the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by the end of the year to sell the shots.

Now you are not going to believe this, but the reactionary right wing of American society, opposes making the vaccine mandatory because they fear it would send subtle messages to girls that sex was okay. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus, you see, and if you give a girl a shot to prevent the virus from infecting her you would be subtly telling her it’s okay to get laid in a drunken stupor by Bubba on a couch after a football game or a binge drnking party or in his F-150 or something. You see the logic. They don’t oppose the vaccine itself, just not for their daughters. They are afraid it would sabotage their abstinence message, which, of course is a demonstrable failure.

How the vaccine will be used, is up to the FDA. Some want the vaccine mandatory—get a shot or not be allowed into high school. (By the way, boys who get the shots are less likely to pass on the virus). Others think parents should have the choice. If I want my daughter to be vulnerable to cervical cancer, you can’t make me immunize her.

In order to forestall the rucus, Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, which produces another vaccine, are meeting with advocacy groups to try and calm things down. I think that is probably a good idea although my response would be less polite.

In a good piece by Rob Stein in the Washington Post, Alan M. Kaye, executive director of the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, likened the vaccine to wearing a seat belt. "Just because you wear a seat belt doesn't mean you're seeking out an accident," Kaye said. Mr. Kaye is a card. He thinks logic will work here.

Which leads to my final question: Why does anyone actually pay any attention to these people.?

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