Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Hindered Point of View

February 15, 2007

texashpv1.jpgThe Christian right has attacked Texas governor Rick Perry for promoting promiscuity by making the HPV vaccine mandatory for all sixth grade girls.

I disagree with the fact that this policy significantly promotes promiscuity.  It reduces the chances of developing cervical cancer from a virus most people don’t even know exists.  It does so for only half of the population.  The female population has essentially been given a new health risk and a new risk reducer at the same time, causing very little change.  This still leaves teens facing unwanted pregnancy, AIDS and a laundry list of other STD’s. 

Making this policy “mandatory” means all girls entering sixth grade must receive the shot or get a parent’s signature to opt out of it.  I doubt many of these horribly offended parents will actually put their money where there mouth is when it comes time to vaccinate their daughters.   According to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey the probability of being sexually active is just less than 50% for all girls, grade 9 – 12.   Most of these parents are betting on their children as sure things, whereas a Vegas bookie would at best give them even money that their kid stays chaste.

The American Social Health Association estimates 75% of all sexually active people will contract one form of HPV or another in his or her lifetime (keep in mind many forms of the virus show no symptoms and/or can be harmless).  This is no small portion of the population.  As a parent trying to minimize losses, which path should one take?  If the child remains sexually inactive, the results are the same.  One can opt out of vaccination at no cost.  On the other hand, a parent can insure the childs safety by paying the costs associated with vaccinating the child.  This is now less socially awkward, more abundant in supply, and most likely subsidized because the State of Texas has required it.  If the child does have sex, there are two possible scenarios for parents: 

A) The parent vaccinated the child:
  The disappointment in a child who is sexually active. 

B) The parent did not vaccinate the child:
Result:  The disappointment in a child who is sexually active, guilt about not doing all in your power to protect that child,  and an increased cancer risk (also your fault).  

This is a no-brainer.  It would be great if every parent could trust their child to be sexually inactive before adulthood.  That just is not the case.  If it were, we wouldn’t need to discuss this problem at such length.  Health policies like this are not made to encourage premarital sex, they exist to provide insurance against some of its side effects.  Parents should take the insurance.  It’s more than worth it.

Kaiser Family Foundation Fact Sheet:

American Social Health Association HPV Fact Sheet: