You may notice that there’s something a bit off here. Claims that vaccines are a dangerous conspiracy purported by horrible pharmaceutical companies are usually associated more with the Loony Left of the political spectrum, while Bachman is decidedly on the Loony Right side of the isle. It’s interesting to note that different ridiculous beliefs tend to come from different sides of the isle. Vaccine conspiracy theories tend to center on mistrust of corporations and capitalism in general and are often part and parcel of theories of how the military and big corporations are killing us with fluoride, chemtrails and depleted uranium, which means we all need to embrace the “natural way” and move back to mud huts where we can practice free love and drop acid.
You’ll notice, however, that Backmann is not opposed to vaccinations in general, but is singling out one vaccine which apparently has a nearly magical power to steal the innocence of sweet lovely little twelve year old and make them retarded. The reason that conservatives are so opposed to the HPV vaccine is that it’s seen as somehow encouraging sex or that requiring it is somehow offering a government endorsement of premarital sex. It’s an extremely warped view when one considers that they’re effectively saying that they are so opposed to what they consider to be offensive forms of sex that it’s worth avoiding a vaccine that could wipe out most cervical cancer.
Her sentiment seems to have been touched off in part by the state of Texas adding the HPV vaccine to the required immunizations for school admission for girls. This was done by another Republican presidential candidate, Rick Perry. Some have accused Perry of taking pharmaceutical money for this policy, it really does not change the fact that it’s a good idea to have girls vaccinated. If he did do so because he was paid off, then all he can be accused of is doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
HPV or the Human papillomavirus is a human-specific virus that can infect the mouth, respiratory system or skin. However, it is most problematic when it effects the genitals. Genital infection of HPV also tends to be quite contagious. Different strains of HPV tend to be more prone to infecting one area of the body than another, so while it is remotely possible that a strain of HPV associated with genital and oral infections could also result in an infection elsewhere, it’s unlikely that this would happen, except perhaps in an immune-compromised individual or in circumstances where there was an unusual level of exposure.
Most HPV infections are asymptomatic. The most common acute symptom of HPV infection is warts. HPV causes all varieties of warts, ranging from genital warts to plantar warts and common skin warts. There’s no cure for HPV, but the local infection is typically treated by removing the warts. Warts can be removed any number of means including cutting or freezing the warts off. Removing warts does not assure that they will not return, as the virus still exists in the region of the body. However, since the wart itself contains the highest concentration of the virus, removal of warts can help the body in clearing the infection. Ultimately, most HPV infections do clear the body due to the action of the immune system, but it can take months or more.
While warts are an unsightly, embarrassing and uncomfortable problem, the real danger from HPV is cancer. HPV is most strongly associated with cervical cancer. Indeed, more than 70% of cases of cervical cancer can be directly attributed on HPV. The strains of the virus that have the strongest association with cancer are not prone to causing warts. The greatest danger occurs in individuals who have the virus in their system for a long period of time. While most HPV infections clear the body in less than a year, 5-10% may last years. These long-lasting infections pose the greatest risk of cervical cancer. HPV is the reason it is recommended that women receive regular pap smears. Since the cancer-causing infection is usually asymptomatic, it is the only way of assuring early detection.
While HPV has the strongest association with cervical cancer, it is certainly not the only cancer that is caused by HPV. The same strains responsible for most cervical cancers are also responsible for at least 25% of anal cancers, a large percentage of oral cancers, cancers of the upper respiratory system, penil cancer and other types of cancer. More than 5% of new cancers detected are attributed to HPV, a whopping half a million cases per year, resulting in innumerable deaths. HPV may soon exceed tobacco usage as the single largest cause of oral cancers.
Overall, the risks of HPV are considerably greater for women than men, but it should not be considered an exclusively female problem. Men rarely get genital warts from the infection and male genital cancers from HPV are far more rare than in females, but they certainly can and do happen.
Transmission and Prevention:
HPV is extremely common. By some estimates, more than 75% of sexually active individuals will contract at least one strain of HPV at some point in their life. The prevalence of the virus varies by age, with sexually active women in their early 20’s having the highest rate of HPV infection – upwards of 40%, although most of these infections are considered “low risk” and will probably clear the body without ever causing any complications. Most infections are asymptomatic, so the majority of individuals are never aware of their exposure to HPV.
Sexual contact is the most common way in which HPV is spread and is the cause of nearly all genital tract infections with HPV. While it’s remotely possible that the infection could be spread by contact with some intermittent surface or object, such cases are rare to the point of being nearly unheard of. There are no documented cases of HPV being spread by a toilet seat, and evidence indicates the risk of this happening is approximate zero.
The risk of spreading HPV from one partner to another can be reduced by the use of a condom, but condom use is far from completely effective. Fluid transfer is not necessary to spread HPV, only skin contact is needed. Therefore, condoms offer, at best, very limited protection. Intercourse is not required either. Simply engaging in activities that involve touching of the genitals can spread the infection.
There are really only two methods of effectively reducing transmission of genital HPV. The most obvious would be complete abstinence from all sexual contact. Obviously, one who never comes in contact with the genital region of anyone else is not likely to acquire the infection. Needless to say, this is not something that is likely to have very broad appeal as a method of reducing transmission.
The second, generally more effective and realistic method is the use of the HPV vaccine, which is highly effective at preventing infection by the most high risk strains of the virus.
There are currently two vaccines for HPV. Both vaccines are relatively new. Gardasil, developed by Merck was approved by the US government in 2006 and within the next year gained approval in the European Union, Australia and elsewhere. A similar vaccine, Cervarix, was developed by by GlaxoSmithKline. Cervarix was first approved in Australia in 2007 and later that year by the European Union. It won final approval in the US in 2009. The vaccines have now been approved in nearly all industrial countries.
While hundreds of strains of HPV are known to exist, the vaccine targets four strains that are known to cause the overwhelming majority of both cancers and genital warts. The vaccine has been shown to reduce the probability of cervical cancer by 70%, the risk of genital warts by over 90% and significantly reduce the risk of HP V-related cancers in other areas of the body. Of course, the vaccine does not only protect the individual who receives it, but also stops the infection from being transmitted to others.
To be most effective, the vaccine should be used prior to an individual becoming sexually active. When used as such, it avoids that individual ever acquiring the highest risk HPV strains. The effectiveness of the vaccine in individuals who have already been infected by one or more strains of HPV is not established. Most sexually active adults don’t know whether they’ve ever had an HPV infection and certainly would not know what strain. Therefore, it is considered optimal for the vaccine to be given at a relatively young age. It is not specifically approved for those older than their mid-20’s, although older individuals can be vaccinated, it’s not entirely clear what level of protection they will receive, if they already have been exposed to HPV.
The HPV vaccine has primarily been marketed for use in females, but it can be used in either gender and has increasingly been suggested for males. Use of the vaccine in both males and females can deny the HPV virus a host. Ultimately, wide deployment of the vaccine can wipe out the most dangerous strains of the virus and avoid at least 70% of cervical cancers. If everyone was vaccinated against HPV, hundreds of thousands of cancers would be avoided each year.
On a personal note:
I have had the HPV vaccine. This despite the fact that I’m a male and that I was technically above the cutoff age. I don’t know if I’ve ever had an HPV infection. There’s a very good chance that I have and a very good chance that I haven’t. If I have had an HPV infection, it was asymptomatic and there’s a very good chance that it was not one of the strains that is of concern and that the vaccine protects against.
Since I don’t know, I thought it was worth the cost of the vaccine to at least reduce the probability that I’d host the HPV virus. If I have not had any of the strains the vaccine protects against, I should be completely protected. If I have had one, I should be protected against at least the other three, but the effectiveness against the one I’ve already had is unknown. It may help or it may not. It’s also possible that I already have a naturally acquired immunity to that infection.
More importantly, I got the vaccine because I thought it was the responsible thing to do. I believe everyone should get it, even if there’s a good chance they’ve had exposure to one or more HPV strains before. The recommendation is more based on economics than safety, recommending the vaccine for those who most benefit. I want to protect humanity and when I say that the vaccine is safe I want to be able to back that up by saying that I was willing to put it into my own body. That was worth the couple hundred dollars I had to pay for it.
And no… it’s not because I’m some kind of playa’ or man-whore.
There is really no debate over the safety or effectiveness of the HPV vaccine, but you might not know that based on what a lot of socially conservative and Christian groups have to say. In fact, they are not opposed to the vaccine because of any legitimate concerns over the possible side effects or medical validity of the vaccine, but simply because, in their minds, it somehow interferes with the message that all sex is wrong unless it is within the confines of a religiously-sanctioned marriage between and man and a woman.
One could go so far as to say that, if everyone practiced sex as most fundamentalist Christians demand, it would mean that genital infections with HPV would not be a problem. If every person maintained absolute sexual abstinence, never engaging in sexual intercourse or any other sexual contact with anyone until the day they were married and thereafter had sex with only their partner, then HPV would have a very hard time spreading very far within the population. Therefore, in the minds of some, HPV is associated with sinning and the vaccine is only helping the dirty, sinful people who would do such a thing.
For most, it might not be so direct as saying those who have sex deserve to get cancer, but some of the arguments include the following:
- Giving a young girl the HPV vaccine effectively conveys the message that you expect she’ll have sex at some point in her life with someone other than her virginal husband and that it’s okay for her to do so.
- Protecting young girls from a sexually transmitted disease will make them go out and have sex.
- If the vaccine is paid for in any way by the government or insurance then we’re all subsidizing protection of the segment of the population that engages in sinful behavior.
- The vaccine would be unnecessary if everyone practiced the christian ideal of sex. We should focus efforts on just getting people to stop having sex.
If you do not believe me, here are some quotes on the subject:
Bridget Maher, Family Research Council:
Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV… Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex.
Because HPV infection is caused by sexual activity, it is not transmitted by casual contact and therefore is not in the same class as other diseases like polio for which mandatory, school-based vaccination is a public-health imperative
Gov. Perry has turned his back on the pro-life and pro-family people who elected him and is now playing into the agenda of Planned Parenthood, a group which regularly opposes parents’ rights and which praised his action as ‘a great day for women and for future generations of Texas women and families
Gardasil is a vaccination against a sexually transmitted virus, and parents should be the ones to decide whether their young daughters should receive these shots Ă˘â‚¬â€ś not Planned Parenthood, and not the governor of any state. American Life League strongly opposes such a mandatory vaccine because it completely removes parents from these important medical decisions and makes children the innocent victims
Planned Parenthood’s own internal documents show that the organization makes most of its income from sexually active, young, single women . Not only does Planned Parenthood stand to profit by selling these expensive HPV vaccines, but it also will profit enormously from the aftermath of the sexual promiscuity that will surely follow when young girls are led to believe they can be sexually carefree without consequence once they receive these shots.
I (Steve) think that they see Gardasil as what one might call a Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“wedgeĂ˘â‚¬ť drug. For them, the success of this public vaccination campaign has less to do with stopping cervical cancer, than it does with opening the door to other vaccination campaigns for other sexually transmitted diseases, and perhaps even including pregnancy itself. For if they can overcome the objections of parents and religious organizations to vaccinating pre-pubescentĂ˘â‚¬â€ťand not sexually activeĂ˘â‚¬â€ťgirls against one form of STD, then it will make it easier for them to embark on similar programs in the future.
After all, the proponents of sexual liberation are determined not to let mere diseaseĂ˘â‚¬â€ťor even deathĂ˘â‚¬â€ťstand in the way of their pleasures. They believe that there must be technological solutions to the diseases that have arisen from their relentless promotion of promiscuity. After all, the alternative is too horrible to contemplate: They might have to learn to control their appetites. And they might have to teach abstinence.
Excluding children from school for refusal to be vaccinated for a disease spread only by penetrating vaginal intercourse is a serious, precedent-setting action that trespasses on the right of parents to make medical decisions for their children as well as on the rights of the children to attend school. In addition, this vaccine prevents a disease which is exclusively sexually transmitted; mandating it as early as 9 years of age places the medical provider in an ethical dilemma.
The Pro-Family Law Center opposes this proposed legislation on the grounds that it infringes on parental rights, unequally protects female students over male students from HPV, and disturbs a natural incentive for teenage students to abstain from sexual intercourse to avoid the contraction of certain sexually transmitted infections.
The underlying assumption here is that adolescent girls in India may all become promiscuous
I personally object to vaccinating children against a disease that is 100 percent preventable with proper sexual behavior
I’ve talked to some who have said, This is going to sabotage our abstinence message
Conclusion (yes it should be mandated):
Requiring vaccination as a condition of entry into school is nothing new. It’s a well established health policy that has resulted in numerous diseases being wiped out. Since the vaccine is an unavoidable requirement, health insurers have to cover it. For those who do not have insurance, required vaccines are usually available through state programs. Wide distribution of such vaccines can reduce the individual cost. Of course, the vaccines will eventually reduce healthcare costs dramatically due to less need for cancer treatment, although in this case, the majority of those savings will take some time to be realized – although reduction in genital wart treatment will occur much sooner.
The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of girls will eventually have sexual contact with more than one person. Most will not wait until they are married to do so and even for the few who do, they usually will not be marrying a man who has likewise been completely sexually sequestered. Providing the maximum protection requires that they receive the vaccine early in life, before they have had any chance to be exposed to the virus. For those who might not be exposed, such as those who plan on going into the convent and becoming nuns, getting the vaccine still does them no harm.
The idea that parents should decide whether their girl “needs it” is ridiculous. It’s totally unreasonable to expect that a girl is going to go to her parents and reveal that she is thinking she might engage in some sexual activity and therefore, it’s about time she gets that vaccine. It’s also completely absurd to expect that parents are somehow completely aware of their kid’s sexual experimentation. It’s one thing to be open with your children, but lets be reasonable here! If nothing else, the mandate allows for girls to receive the vaccine without having to go through the uncomfortable process of requesting it. It gives them an “out” to simply say “I need it for school” and not “I might someday have sex.” (Even though they generally will.)
It won’t turn innocent little girls into whores or even encourage sex. It’s not as though risks like sexually transmitted diseases have ever been that much of a deterrent anyway, and eliminating one of the less high risk ones is not going to make anyone suddenly feel liberated to go screw the entire town. The whole ideas is as absurd as thinking that getting a tetanus shot encourages anyone to go play with dirty, rusty nails.
There is one thing, however, that is missing from most of the requirements: it only applies to half of the population. We already know that the HPV vaccine protects boys from genital warts and a variety of cancers. Overall, the chances that HPV will cause harm to a male are far less than those for females, but that’s not the entire issue. If the vaccine were given to both boys and girls, it would deny the virus hosts and eventually the most harmful strains would be driven to extinction.
This entry was posted on Sunday, September 18th, 2011 at 8:04 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Conspiracy Theories, Culture, Education, Politics, Quackery, media. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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