Health17 Aug 2010 08:33 am
A new edition of The Intellectual Devotional, this time with a focus on Health, is coming to stores on October 16! (Click here to pre-order your copy.) As well as continuing to expand on posts from the General Edition, “The Devoted Intellect” blog will introduce and expand on material from the Modern Culture devotional. Today’s entry on “Cervical Cancer” is from the “Sexuality and Reproduction” section of the Health edition.
Gardasil is a vaccine designed to prevent infection with four strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), specifically types 6, 11, 16 and 18. HPV types 16 and 18 are known to cause about 70% of all cervical cancer cases, as well as some vulvar, vaginal, penile and anal cancers, while HPV types 6 and 11 are believed to cause approximately 90% of all genital warts outbreaks. Infection with the HPV virus is extremely common: an estimated six million people are infected each year, and nearly three quarters of the US population between the ages of 15 and 49 have been infected with the virus at some time in their lives. Moreover, condom use is significantly less effective at preventing the transmission of the virus; unlike sexually transmitted infection such as Chlamydia and H.I.V., which are spread through the transmission of bodily fluids, HPV is passed via skin-to-skin contact.
Gardasil is only effective at preventing new HPV infections, so it is strongly advised that the vaccine is administered during adolescence, so that young people are protected before the onset of sexual activity. Some States have attempted to mandate the vaccine for adolescent girls, a move that has elicited a firestorm of controversy amongst some religious and libertarian groups. These groups have exerted considerable pressure on their state representatives to vote against any measure that would make the vaccination mandatory. They have also vocally opposed the appropriation of state funds for vaccinating girls. Conservative groups, such as the Moral Majority and the influential Family Research Council (FRC), argue that the vaccine will encourage adolescent girls to engage in promiscuous behavior and premarital sex. In a letter written to the US government, the FRC made their position crystal clear, stating, “Our primary concern is with the message that would be delivered to nine- to 12-year-olds with the administration of the vaccines. Care must be taken not to communicate that such an intervention makes all sex ‘safe’.”
Thanks to the handiwork of these conservative groups, the Texas legislature overturned an executive order issued by governor Rick Perry, mandating vaccination against HPV for adolescent girls. Proponents of Gardasil argue that moral reservations about the behavioral impact of the drug are significantly outweighed by the fact that the vaccine has the ability to prevent the development of cervical cancer, which claims the lives of 10 women in the US every day. Now that the FDA is cautiously recommending that adolescent boys also receive the vaccine, Gardasil proponents are gearing up for World War II in their war against cervical cancer.
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