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I think Gardasil is going to save thousands of women's lives. Gardasil is a vaccine that prevents infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV).

It is estimated that approximately 20 million American men and women are infected with HPV. In most people, HPV appears to go away on its own. In some, the virus has been linked to cervical cancer, abnormal pap tests and genital warts. In the United States, an estimated 10,370 new cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed in 2005, and there will be an estimated 3,710 deaths from cervical cancer. Genital warts are common - 500,000 to 1,000,000 cases in the United States alone - and treatment options may be painful.

If we give every American girl the Gardasil vaccination before they become sexually active, then we can greatly reduce the instances of cervical cancer and less than 3,710 women a year will die from it. But, that means we have to vaccinate the girls at a young age. Nine years old doesn't seem unreasonable. Many kids become sexually active in middle school, so 4th grade seems like a good cut-off. Or 5th grade. Doesn't matter to me, let the social scientists decide. But, apparently this line of thinking (you know, about the coolness of saving lives) is dangerous moonbattery.

Here's the New York Timesreport:

"The vote all but commits the federal government to spend as much as $2 billion alone on a program to buy the vaccine for the nation's poorest girls from 11 to 18.

"The vaccine, Gardasil, protects against cancer and genital warts by preventing infection from four strains of the human papillomavirus, the most common sexually transmitted disease, according to federal health officials. The virus is also a cause of other cancers in women."

If you think 11 sounds young for sex, how about age 9--the recommended age in some cases?

But there are a few hitches--such as parents who, uh, balk at the idea of telling prepubescent girls that it's just fine for them to have all the sex they want, 'cuz now they'll be vaccinated! And isn't it against the law to have sex with children? As the Times concedes:

"But Gardasil's benefits could be blunted by a complex brew of practical, economic and religious considerations. On the practical side, Gardasil is supposed to be given as three shots over six months. While pediatricians and government health agencies have long been successful in having parents adhere to complex vaccination schedules for infants, older children are more difficult to manage.

"Another challenge is Gardasil's price. At $360 for the three-shot regimen, it is among the most expensive vaccines ever. Because cervical cancer is mostly a disease of poverty, those in most need of the vaccine will be the least able to afford it. State vaccination programs, already under financial strain, may refuse to provide it."

I hope they do refuse. How about telling young teen-agers instead that sexual promiscuity is not only a bad idea but actually dangerous to their health?

Now, this Charlotte Allen has already been eviscerated by Amanda and by zuzu at Feministe. I'd just like to add that Charlotte Allen is disrespectful to the underclass and to pre-school teachers. My mother was the director of a pre-school and I don't think she would agree with the following.

A couple of days ago, my hometown, Washington, D.C., announced a plan to force every single D.C. resident between the ages of 14 and 84 (yes you read that right: 84) to be tested for the AIDS virus, at the cost of God knows how much money. Oh, so what if AIDs in this country in confined to just a few subgroups: mainly gay men plus intravenous drug-users? The idea, I guess, is that if you make everyone take the test, even though the vast majority don't need it, you won't make the subgroups feel bad about themselves. This in a city that apparently can't afford to pay janitors to keep its public schools clean--but let's test Grandma for HIV!

That's what I call the "universal preschool" model of setting up a social program. Preschool confers only marginal benefits on most young children (I sure never went), but it does some good for underclass kids, if only by getting them out of the house and away from their dysfunctional families for a few hours a day. So why not spend a bazillion dollars forcing every single child in the country to attend so those underclass children won't feel bad?

I'll let a snark opportunity go by on whether or not Charlotte could have received more than marginal benefits from some preschool. But, there have been many studies that refute Ms. Allen's contention that preschool does not provide advantages. And while it is probably strictly true that the underclass excels at dysfunctional families, proponents of universal pre-school do not advocate their cause to avoid making the underclass "feel bad". They do so to offer every child the best chance for a healthy intellectual life and a fair shot at success.

I don't really understand why wingnuts exist and why they think the way they do. As zuzu ably pointed out:

First off, why in God's name would you tell your kid -- your 9-year-old kid -- about the connection between this shot and sex? The kid asks why they have to get the shot, you tell them it's so they don't get sick. I know my parents didn't explain in detail disease pathways every time I got a shot as a kid, just that it was going to keep me from getting sick. About the only thing I was ever given any detail on was the odd tetanus shot, and that's because a) there's a cause-effect relationship between getting cut and getting the shot; and b) my dad had had tetanus as a kid and it didn't sound like a very pleasant experience.

Seriously, though, what is the religious-nut obsession with having discussions with your prepubescent children about sex? As if Purity Balls and virginity pledges and fathers being in charge of their daughters' sexuality weren't creeptastic enough, they have to turn a perfectly routine vaccination for a very young girl who probably isn't even that curious about sex yet into some kind of opportunity to obsess about that girl's genitalia?

And, yes, Charlotte, having sex with children is against the law. But children, you may have noticed, grow into adults, who will more than likely have sex. With other people. Who may very well have been exposed to HPV at some point, like the majority of the population. And this is where that herd immunity thing comes in.

And as for it being against the law, well, why don't you ask an altar boy how much that does to stop adults who are determined to have sex with kids?

It's ridiculous that we have to point these things out. Imagine being dissappointed that human ingenuity has discovered a way to keep women from getting nasty genital warts and cervical cancer? Imagine thinking to yourself, "Damn, that's one less reason I can use to convince my daughter to remain chaste"? Imagine thinking that state vaccination programs should refuse to offer this potentially life-saving immunization and instead just give little girls a stern warning about the dangers of sex (including HPV, the virus they will be neglecting to protect them from)?

Maybe we need a vaccination against this kind of thinking. When this type of thinking promulgates its way through the Republican Party and into the halls of power, it amounts to an atrocity. It's an atrocity in lives lost, and it's an atrocity of reason. It's worse than pathetic, it's deeply misguided and immoral.

Originally posted to on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 12:42 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Shaking Head (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eugene, shermanesq, murrayewv

      I just don't understand why individuals would be against his vaccination.  The people protesting this the most are likely parents who are drilling the evils of pre-marital sex into their child's head already.  A vaccine - which would protect them regardless of whether the contact was consensual - isn't going to override years of parenting.

      The road to hell is paved with Good Intentions.

      by JenAtlanta on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 12:48:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  They see it (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eugene, sassy texan, SnowCountry

        as one less tool in the parenting toolbox.  

        And as NLinStPaul points out in the green thread, marrying a nice Christian man and remaining faithful to him in no guarantee that you won't wind up with HPV.  Imagine that!! Christian men cheat too.

      •  These people use God as a fearsome (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        eugene, shermanesq

        all seeing punishing ultra daddy to control their kids. I often have felt like saying,god sees you when you do that to stop them.

        They believe that they are rewarded by him,that something that something miraculous that happens is god's will. By the same token when something really unforeseen and bad happens they internalize it as the will of god to punish them. And they secretly hide their sins so they know that god saw them and meted out punishment.

        Or they feel so much guilt they must work for their congregation moving them multi times in a year because they don't or can't pay their rent while they smoke packs and packs of cigarettes and drink all that beer. They have no truck or car,they can't keep their dogs in a new place and just abandon them. The only hold they have on help is their local church. If they can sob their way into help to enable them to the next crisis.

  •  Do these idiots (7+ / 0-)

    put up the same fuss about hepatitis vaccines?  You know, ofcourse, that you can get hepatitis through sex or using dirty needles.  Are we encouraging sex with drug addicts by vaccinating?

  •  vaccine more effective if given to preteens (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eugene, shermanesq, moiv, splashy

    The news stories keep omitting a crucial fact, i.e. this vaccine more effective if given to preteens.  It has nothing to do with sexual activity and all to do with the way this particular vaccine works.  I'm not sure but I think it requires booster shots every five or so years too.  

  •  They are hopeless. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eugene, shermanesq

    As guerilla concepts argues,you are not going to change them at all. They do not want and will not listen to arguments from the other side.

    Posters,bumper stickers,stickies are the way. They will see them and they will sink in like a childhood jingle for J-E-L-L-O.

  •  The reason for early vaccination (8+ / 0-)

    is that it's more effective.

    The approval for Gardasil, which is administered as a series of three injections over a 6-month period, includes its use for the prevention of cervical cancer and certain cervical, vulvular, and vaginal precancers called intraepithelial neoplasias.

    In large international clinical trials testing Gardasil, it prevented nearly 100 percent of the precancerous cervical cell changes caused by the HPV types targeted by the vaccine for up to 4 years after vaccination.

    These efficacy studies included females aged 15 to 26. Because of logistical and ethical concerns, Merck conducted trials in girls aged 9 to 15 only to measure their immune response to the vaccine. Participants in those studies had an even stronger immune response than the older participants in the efficacy trials, which the advisory committee and FDA agreed supported "bridging" or extending the effectiveness data to include this younger group.

    Of course, that's only according to the National Cancer Institute. Sorry I can't provide adequate biblical sourcing for such a goofy notion.

    Support the Lilith Fund: equal access for the women of Texas

    by moiv on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 12:55:27 PM PDT

  •  Never went to pre-school (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eugene, shermanesq, moiv, splashy, SnowCountry

    If C. Allen went to any school at all, she should do her homework better.  It's been a very long time since the only high risk groups for HIV transmission were nly iv drug users and gay men.

    This whole resistance to vaccination for HPV just makes me sick.  A friend of mine lost a fair proportion of her insides, and almost her life, from this really horrible disease.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 01:00:05 PM PDT

  •  We're not dealing with rational people (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shermanesq, moiv, splashy, SnowCountry

    We are instead dealing with extremely irrational people who believe it's less important to save their kids' lives than it is to contemplate their daughters some day being sexually active.

    A mass delusion.

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day

    by eugene on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 01:00:49 PM PDT

  •  Charlotte Allen is... (6+ / 0-) idiot.  She says:

    A couple of days ago, my hometown, Washington, D.C., announced a plan to force every single D.C. resident between the ages of 14 and 84...

    Reality says:

    The D.C. government wants to distribute 80,000 20-minute testing kits to hospitals, schools and local health organizations before the end of the year, with the goal of making rapid HIV screening a routine part of D.C. life.  [...]

    In theory, the AHPP will use the data it accumulates to begin gauging the rate of HIV infection in the city. Then the District can start issuing the kinds of reports on the spread of the virus that have long been standard in cities such as Baltimore and New York -- theirs come out quarterly -- and finally begin targeting its HIV funding effectively.

    It's an ambitious plan for the AHPP, a branch of the Department of Health that has so far failed to gather basic information about HIV in the District, even though it spent almost half a billion dollars in local and federal funds over the past eight years. It's also an appropriately bold counterpunch in the city's so-far losing fight with HIV: The District's rate of HIV infection rivals that of AIDS-ridden nations in sub-Saharan Africa.

    The city's latest public health campaign won't work, however, if District residents don't take the time to get tested. So if you didn't drop by Freedom Plaza on your lunch break yesterday, find a clinic and get a free HIV screening. It only takes 20 minutes to take charge of your health.

    God knows we wouldn't want to effectively fight a deadly disease...but this idiot claims everyone is being "forced" to be tested to make "sub-groups" (sub-human?) feel better about themselves?  Cripes.

    Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool-- how much worse lying lips to a ruler - Proverbs 17:7

    by Barbara Morrill on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 01:11:23 PM PDT

  •  Think longer term on women's rights (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The main reason why I actually hope Santorum beats Casey in PA (although I personally cannot vote for either one of them) is because I believe the damage done to women's rights by the fundamentalist wingnuts will be a coming political goldmine that can be achieved by a strict and clearly stated pro-women's rights platform by the Dem party now!  

    This is a passive agressive issue in that a lot if women are not paying too close of attention to their second class developing citizenship under the social/religious conservatives.  If the Dems help bring this second class citizenship about by supporting and electing the likes of Reid and Casey, then the Dem party will miss the opportunity long-term to cash in when the large majority of women finally wake up to their renewed salvery status to men.  If the Dems can keep the blame for this coming freedom debacle strictly within the repub party, great political gains can be there for the taking down the road!

    Political censorship is the root of all evil! It is the antithesis to a functional democracy!!

    by truthbetold on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 01:18:09 PM PDT

  •  incest (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Meteor Blades, eugene, moiv, splashy, awakenow

    That one word is reason enough for it to be given at the youngest age possible. There is really nothing sadder than a child who contracts an STD from molestation.

    Proud member of the women's studies crowd and a damn hippie!

    by sassy texan on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 02:00:41 PM PDT

  •  A lottery of death. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    splashy, awakenow

    This is what they are advocating. They want to enter the names of all women (at least, those in their own "community") who engage in premarital sex into a lottery, whose payoff is an early, horrific death. It's so important to them to have this lottery that they're willing to throw in the names of the collateral victims: the women whose partners have had premarital or extramarital sex, and the women who contract the disease without sexual intercourse.

    It's really important to understand what they are asking for. It is exactly as if they demanded the right to select from among their daughters who are caught fornicating a random sample, and to then stone to death their own offspring. Well, okay, with the collateral damage, it's actually worse than that. This is what they want -- to kill their own children. This is the evil nature that inspires them.

    I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

    by UntimelyRippd on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 02:45:45 PM PDT

  •  20 million doesn't tell the whole story. (0+ / 0-)

    The 20 million Americans are the ones who currently have infections. Evidently, the body can purge the little buggers, eventually. But this stuff really gets around. There are estimates that up to 75% of sexually active Americans will at some point have a genital HPV infection. (Nevermind the bazillions of non-genital HPV infections.)

    (As a disclaimer, I recently took a job at a company whose fortunes will rise dramatically if American society becomes HPV-crazy. So maybe I'm just a hypocritical left-wing blogofascist trying to pump my stock options.)

    I am further of the opinion that the President must be impeached and removed from office!

    by UntimelyRippd on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 02:58:03 PM PDT

  •  So, are the wingnuts against the girls (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    splashy, tjb22
    getting vaccines, but it's okey-dokey to vaccinate the boys with Gardasil? I wasn't sure when I read the end of the NYT article.

    ...Because Gardasil prevents a sexually transmitted disease, some religious groups have sounded reservations about vaccinating young girls.


    Merck also hopes someday to receive approval to have boys vaccinated with Gardasil, which protects against two strains of virus that cause 90 percent of genital warts.

    Although a few religious groups have expressed mild reservations about the vaccine, many conservative organizations support it.

    And, that Charlotte Allen, at the Independent Women's Forum --what an idiot. All mouth and a peabrain. A free-market feminist who wants to "Change the terms of the debate on quality of life issues affecting American women." Hmmm.

    <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

    by bronte17 on Sun Jul 02, 2006 at 03:05:38 PM PDT

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