25 percent of American women infected with HPV

USA Today reports that one in four U.S. women become infected with HPV, the virus which causes cervical cancer.

Researchers have estimated that 20 million Americans have some form of HPV. The study concluded that 26.8% of U.S. women are infected, a figure that is comparable to earlier estimates using smaller groups.
“We expected the prevalence of any HPV infection would be high and that’s what we found,” said CDC researcher Dr. Eileen Dunne, the study’s lead author.

You can find the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Join the Conversation

  • http://www.feministreview.org Feminist Review

    Uh-huh. What is doesn’t tell you is that less than 2% of women infected will actually get cervical cancer and of those most will survive and live normal, healthy lives.
    Perhaps we should be talking more about how Merck is making bank off of pushing laws requiring this ‘immunization’ for girls (Texas has already passed legislation and many other states are following suit), unless (of course) their parents opt out or they don’t have the money (because the shots are something like $1000 total).
    So I guess what they’re saying is that we should be paniked and spend $1000 to be vaccinated against something that we’re really not at that high of a risk for, but if we’re poor then we don’t matter.
    Can we please talk about something that is affecting the health/lives of many women… like heart disease or lung cancer? Or how about rape, which arguably poses more of a health risk than HPV.

  • Shayna Bree

    Thank you, F.R. I had one of my female students do the math. The statistical chances of one of us getting the real deal is very low.
    I am glad there is a vaccine, but the hysteria is a bit absurd.

  • http://babypop.blogspot.com BabyPop

    I had the real deal two years ago, and it’s been kind of rough reading/seeing so much about it in the media (actually – only rough seeing the all advertising.)
    Agreed, Shayna Bree. I think the vaccine is wonderful, but I think an open and honest discussion with children about sex – and that means EVERYTHING – and teaching girls not to be ashamed of their bodies, and to go for their yearlies no matter how nervous they may feel about it, would do so much more for prevention than any vaccine.
    Finally – now, this is just me – but as a 20-something that had to undergo a radical hysterectomy to treat stage 1 cancer, I truly feel that, if men had to undergo getting their balls chopped off to treat it, medical science would have developed a better way to treat the early stages of this disease.

  • philade

    A large part of the reduction in cervical cancer has to do with the use of pap smears to detect cellular abnormalities that can precede cancer. When those abnormalities are detected, measures can be taken to address the issue before cancer can develop. When these kinds of precancerous cells are found, some of the treatment has to do with freezing and scraping the cervix to remove the cells, etc.
    Not that my description is complete or anything, but the point is that these measures themselves are costly, painful, and stressful to women needing to undergo them. The HPV vaccine’s value, then, has also (even primarily) to do with reducing the need for these kind of procedures.
    That’s not to say we should all be running out to get the vaccine. But it is misleading to only point to the number of actual cancer cases as a possible benefit of vaccination.

  • EG

    And genital warts themselves, while not cancerous, have some pretty negative effects as well.

  • have.at.it

    I got diagnosed with the warts last year. They suck, but they eventually go away if you take care of yourself. I would have taken the vaccine if I could have, though. As far as I’m concerned, it should be mandatory for boys and girls.

  • Laina

    I agree with the first comment posted here.
    HPV doesn’t really do very much in most cases. The problem that we should really all be concentrating on is getting all women access to regular pap smears and GYN exams.

  • bubblex

    Actually, the shots are $140 each and three are required for optimum immunity against the 4 strains of the human papilloma virus that it protects against. And yes, while 1 in 4 women of reproductive age are INFECTED with HPV, that study does not take into account previous cleared infections. The overall rate of lifetime HPV infection is 80% in 50 year old women. That is an incredible high rate of overall infection.
    While its nice to think that talking to your daughters about EVERYTHING sex related will help them avoiding contracting HPV, this is simply not the case. Condoms do reduce the risk of transmission, but they cannot eliminate it, and most people simply are not aware they are infected. The only way to not contract HPV is abstinece or only sleeping with one person who has had no genital sexual contact with another person. Because this is a ridiculous proposition, a vaccine that helps prevent some of the most malicious strains is honestly our best bet. The reason it does not make sense for boys to have mandatory vaccinations is the concept in medical ethics of non-maleficence: because boys generally suffer no ill effects of being infected with HPV, it would be medically unethical to vaccinate them all – as all vaccines carry risks, and the risks in this case outweigh the benefits for male patients. However, by vaccinating all girls, we can better assure that those girls will not be infected with the strains that cause 70% of cervical cancers. It would be nice if everyone could be vaccinated, but that really isn’t a practical solution.
    I HAVE HPV, but I still got the vaccine because I may not have the 4 common strains it protects against. Sure you can distrust Merk, but I think its ridiculous that some of you would stress the economic principles of the vaccine over the importance that all girls be vaccinated before they become sexually active. Access to pap smears should of course be increased and done annually, but wouldn’t it be nice it we could reduce the number of women who have to undergo painful treatments and get cancer because of disease we can prevent many cases of? Doesn’t that make sense? Does it really matter why its mandatory if the fact that its mandatory will save lives?

  • oenophile

    I did the math. If we mandate vaccines for all young girls, it will cost something like $1.2 million to prevent a single case of cervical cancer.
    Merck is on-patent until 2019, I think. After that, a generic manufacturer can introduce its form of Gardasil for six months without competition from anyone besides Merck. During those six months, the prices will stay the same. After more than one generic is on the market, the price of the shot will drop.
    Consider that today’s 11-year-olds will still be young enough to receive the vaccine when Gardasil goes off patent.
    Not that life isn’t precious, but we could also spend those millions doing things like getting poor people off the streets during the winter.

  • EG

    Heh. My cervix is totally worth a million bucks. ‘Course, I’m not eligible, because I’ve got one foot in the grave.

  • natmusk

    I am unsure about other areas but I do know that Porter County, in Indiana, has funding to provide free vaccines to girls between the ages of 9-26 if there is a lack of insurance. They also come into the jails to do free vaccinations on hepatisis and free std testing with free meds for those who are infected. The problem is noone is talking about it so most people go on living at risk for certain diseases. That is the bigger issue to me. There are not enough free resources to go around and it seems like the ones we do have go unnoticed to those that would benefit

  • ES

    Long post incoming.
    Some company somewhere will make money off of every single vaccination there is. That is how our society currently works, we do things for profit; the HPV vaccine is no different. I agree that it is questionable that Merck would push the idea of vaccinating all people, as it is true that their motivation is likely to be profit as opposed to the well-being of humanity. The cynic in me knows that they are there for the profit, but the idealist in me wants to think that at some level they truly want to help people. I knew people I worked with while in school that went into biochem or organic chemistry because when they were 10, their grandmother died of cancer, and they knew then and there that they wanted to help people avoid cancer (or other diseases), or help make it easier to fight. Those same people I knew now work at various companies to help develop vaccines and improved chemotherapy agents, I myself did research in that same discipline as an undergrad. Those people are not in R&D for the money but to help people that are sick (or to help prevent people from becoming sick), and I hope that at some level, that is the reason legislation like the one in Texas is implemented.
    As for the statistical argument, yes it is true that few women will eventually get cervical cancer. But why is it not an acceptable and reasonable goal to reduce the overall number of people infected and ultimately, the number of women that get cervical cancer? Yes there are other ways to do this, such as more regular pap smears and early treatment. Those are both good, but why not do all 3? Yes it costs money, to a lot of people three hundred-some dollars is a lot. My chicken pox vaccination cost a lot, too (I managed to make it to 16 without getting chicken pox, so we went ahead with the vaccination). As did my hepatitis C vaccine. As did my tetanus vaccination (and booster, which I will be getting every 10 years, IIRC). Medical care is expensive as hell.
    This “It isn’t likely to happen to me, so I don’t need to vaccinate myself� type of logic drives me nuts. Vaccination of men is a critical element in this fight, since that is how many (and probably the majority of) women will be infected. If fewer men become carriers, fewer women will become infected, fewer cases of cervical cancer will develop. Here again, yes there are other ways to reduce transmission of STI’s. But if our overall goal is to reduce the transmission of STI’s, it is reasonable to use all reasonable available methods to do so. Safer-sex practices, vaccinations, better and more comprehensive sex education, and (more) frequent testing procedures are all elements of the fight against STI’s. How is a person to know if she/he has HPV? Open communication with partners and STI testing are critical here, but I doubt that either of those is frequent for many (but not all) people*.
    Additionally as was said, if men had visible or major symptoms of this, I believe there would be more attention to it, absolutely. I would (and am going to) gladly have myself vaccinated to help protect my future partners, and their future partners, etc., etc. This indirect selfishness is, I feel, a major driving factor in this debate (in general, not pointing fingers at anyone here). A large portion of society does not share my sentiment, is not willing to do something costly and mildly inconvenient to help protect other people from disease, even though I do not gain any direct benefit from vaccinating myself.
    And finally a bit on a different idea: HPV is a topic important to women, as is rape, which is why we discuss and attempt to combat both of them. Arguably rape is a greater threat to most women, but simply because that is the case does not mean that we can never talk about HPV. Many issues are important, which is why sites such as this one discuss a wide variety of topics meaningful and important to women, to exclude some topics because they aren’t as great a threat is to examine only a portion of the problems women face.
    Also, oenophile, would you be willing to show us the math that lead you to that number?
    Feminist Review, please don’t feel that this post is directed personally at you, it is simply a general summary of my beliefs, and was triggered in response to your comment.
    * As far as I am aware, there are currently not any officially approved tests for HPV in men.

  • philade

    The benefit of the vaccine is not SOLELY in preventing infections that WOULD OTHERWISE result in cancer.
    The benefit is ALSO in preventing infections that WOULD OTHERWISE result in painful and costly treatments (that often must be repeated) of PRECANCEROUS cells detected by abnormal pap smears.
    Pap smears don’t prevent HPV infection. Pap smears help detect the results of an infection before it does complete the transition into cancer. This allows treatment at this stage to make it less likely that an already present infection will result in cancer.
    The incidence of these post-infection pre-cancer treatments is MUCH higher than the incidence of full-blown cancer cases. So a large benefit of vaccination lies in this consideration in addition to consideration of the actual number of cancer cases.
    In an ideal world, all women would have access to regular pap smear and subsequent treatment if necessary. EVEN STILL the vaccination would have great benefit. Fewer women would have to undergo the potential physical risks of such treatments as well as the stress of having a state of infection that potentially leads to cancer.
    Let’s also consider that MANY women, even though they have full access, do not actually get a pap smear every year – for whatever reason (fear of doctors, forgetfulness, etc.).
    Let’s also consider that we’re NOT in an ideal world. For many women, regular pap smears and subsequent treatment if necessary is not feasible. OBVIOUSLY that should be addressed. But in the meantime, having the HPV vaccine accessible will help reduce the incidence of problematic infections (requiring treatment) and cancer.
    There were some generalizations and such in all of that. But it’s important to look at all of the benefits of the vaccine.
    To be sure, Merck is going to be making some money off of this. But is that reason to call all motives into doubt, or to undermine making this vaccine accessible to all?

  • Mina

    “That is how our society currently works, we do things for profit”
    …and if not for profit then at least for a living.
    The researchers, engineers, etc. who invent and make this stuff aren’t subsistence farmers who tinker in the labs in their spare time. They have to buy their food from someone else.
    “Additionally as was said, if men had visible or major symptoms of this, I believe there would be more attention to it, absolutely.”
    Some men already do:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6342105.stm
    “Homosexual men are requesting a controversial ‘sex disease’ vaccine designed to prevent a female cancer.
    “Gardasil protects against the most common of sexually transmitted infections, human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer.
    “But HPV also causes genital warts and anal and penile cancer, and men argue the jab would guard against these.
    “Many private clinics are offering it to men. One in London says it has immunised dozens in the last six weeks…”

  • http://narciblog.blogspot.com Narc

    Also remember that cervical cancer is fairly rare … in the United States. It is the third most common cancer, worldwide and it is the single most commonly diagnosed cancer in Southern Africa and Central America.

  • ES

    Mina: as for my capitalism remark, that was more of a comment from an idealistic standpoint. It is companies using practices to gain insane wealth for the heads of the company that bothers me, and I don’t have sufficient information to relate that specifically to Merck. Adequate compensation for the effort researchers etc. put into their schooling and time at work is of course not what I was referring to (yes it was unclear). I certainly see your point.
    When I wrote:
    “Additionally as was said, if men had visible or major symptoms of this, I believe there would be more attention to it, absolutely.”, my ‘or’ should have been an ‘and’, and also I should have been more specific. Penile and anal cancers resulting from HPV are (from the research I’ve done at least, which is, as always, possibly wrong) less common than cervical cancer in women. Of course genital warts affect both genders. Much of this also has to do with the publicity HPV recieves in the media, which is much more often related to cervical cancer.

  • jerry

    I read an MD in the SF Chronicle that said that overall, annual pap smears are still needed even with GARDASIL, but there is no pap test lobby in the United States.
    Ezra (and lots of folks) are talking about the necessity for free basic dental care.
    How much would it take to create free testing for certain relatively easy to detect, relatively inexpensive to treat diseases? Should be the sort of thing that can be found in a mall, or in a mobile Winnebago.
    Basic women’s health care, basic men’s health care, basic kids health care, basic dental health care. Should be free and easy to get to.

  • oenophile

    Great post, ES, with a lot of good points. :) Since you asked, my math, which I did for Texas but assumed that incidents were the same for everyone (i.e. what applies there applies everywhere).
    Vaccine = $400 each.
    3,166,000 girls under 18 in Texas.
    176,000 girls per year will receive the vaccine; over the next nine years (remaining patent term for Gardasil), roughly 1.5 million will get the vaccine.
    The vaccine prevents 70% of the cases of cervical cancer. (ASSUME that the vaccine will NOT cause mutating viruses, which would LOWER this number.) 10,000 nationwide yearly, which translates into 539 cases in Texas, of which 200 result in death.
    So we vaccinate 176,000 per year to save 539 million later on. Pap smears are still necessary, because cervical cancer can be caused by things like smoking. Therefore, no cost change.
    Yearly vaccine cost: $70.2 million.
    Average age to develop cervical cancer: 50-55, i.e. 40 years after mandatory vaccine age.
    $70.2 million spent now is not the same thing as $70.2 million spent 40 years from now; there is a time-value of money, having made that expenditure now and not seeing a payoff for 40 years. I used a 4% discount rate and arrived at a figure of $586 million for Texas, per year, current value. (Note that this is a slightly different concept from inflation.)
    539 cases, $586 million: roughly $1 million each.
    Whether or not it’s worth it is a different issue. I personally think that it is NOT necessarily the BEST use of LIMITED resources. $400 here, $1,000 here – the amount that you can spend on preventative medical care is truly endless. Add in other causes of death, like the 44,000 people a year who die in automobile accidents, and it just seems really silly to MANDATE certain vaccines. Not that you aren’t going to get it, but remember that the $1 million could be spent in many other ways.
    The question isn’t whether it’s worth it – anyone who is sick will tell you that they would give ANYTHING to be better – but whether it is the BEST or even a SANE use of the money. $1 million per case? With people dying because of homelessness, mental illness, crime, lack of side-impact air bags… the list of ways to die is endless, and there is an endless list of ways we could spend money to stop it.

  • oenophile

    So we vaccinate 176,000 per year to save 539 million later on.
    Delete “million” from this!

  • ES

    Thanks very much oenophile, greatly appreciated.
    When idealism meets practicality it makes me a sad panda.

  • oenophile

    ES,
    Thank you. :)
    As for idealism and reality – cheer up a bit. :) Whether or not the vaccine makes economic sense, we have the opportunity to use it if we want it. If someone wants to really reduce her risk of cervical cancer, she has that option available to her. The technology is great; like all really good technology, though, someone has to pay for it. (Tying in with Merck as selfless or profit-driven; IMHO, they are intrinsically related, as no pharmaceutical company will continue to spend $500 million to develop new drugs if it can’t make at least $500 million on them. Gardasil profits fund more research.)
    I guess that’s why I’m very pro-vaccine but anti-mandate. There are side effects to the vaccine, and it’s unlikely that the virus won’t mutate between now and when we all hit our early 50s, so it might not protect us anyway. But we still have that option available to us, if $400 is worth peace of mind.
    Since reasonable people can very rationally differ – $400 being worth not taking the risk or not being economically sound, given the other ways in which it could be used to prevent illness (heck, even buying organic food or upgrading your health insurance) – I just don’t agree with making this mandatory. Something need not be required in order to be available.

  • SassyGirl

    What about the side effects from the vaccine? Vaccines are not 100% safe. I have a vaccine damaged son and would give my right arm to be able to go back and choose not to have him vaccinated. For information about reported reactions to Gardasil, go to: http://vaers.hhs.gov/scripts/data.cfm
    VAERS is a government run reporting database, not that I put too much faith in the government. If you download the data from 2006, you will get an excel sheet full of adverse reactions to vaccines. You can sort it by vaccine. There were over 300 reactions to Gardasil in only six months. Some of the reactions are minor, such as pain at the injection site, some fainted (scary because it isn’t known what caused them to faint or what those long term implications could be) and a there were a few cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome, a couple of miscarriages and Bell’s Palsy. Most of these reactions were grown women.
    I understand that many want this to be mandatory, but the thought of all of these young girls going in for this before real long term effects are known is very scary.

  • http://www.feministreview.org Feminist Review

    “I guess that’s why I’m very pro-vaccine but anti-mandate.”
    My feelings exactly. The issue here is not whether people should choose to get the vaccination. It is whether it should be mandatory, and SassyGirl’s point is extremely important. There is a long history of women (particularly women of color) being guinea pigs for supposedly ‘safe’ drugs, including hormonal birth control, that end up having really terrible side effects… like heart attack, stroke, death. Why should we believe this drug is any different? Because really, whether we get vaccinated or not, there is risk.

  • jerry

    You can read more about the safety and testing issues of Gardasil here:
    http://www.fda.gov/cber/label/hpvmer013007LB.pdf
    I am not a doctor, but things that caught my eye are that:
    It’s effectiveness in the targeted age group of girls was never proven but only inferred from other effects.
    There’s a whole bunch of side effects that mainly come down to if you’re healthy and not pregnant it seems to be fine, but if you’re not healthy, or pregnant, watch out.
    If you get pregnant within 30 days of taking Gardasil it seems as though it can cause difficulties and abnormalities.
    There was no long term study done, so they don’t know if it causes cancer or leads to other problems.
    Other sources I have read said that the testing was flawed: the placebo was not saline but actually a part of the vaccine considered to be an inert transport. What this means is that if that portion of the vaccine is not safe, than it makes the control “placebo” group have an higher rate of difficulties than they would if they had been injected with saline. This makes the vaccine itself seem safer than it is.
    I am glad it is available. I don’t think it should be mandatory. I do think it is reasonable to pass a law making insurance companies pay for it.
    There is another vaccine coming out next year — you may wish to wait and compare.
    If you have a young daughter, you may wish to ask yourself what will medical science find in the 15 – 40 years she has before she reaches the average age of a victim of cervical cancer.

  • http://trailerparkfeminist.blogspot.com trailer park chick

    (Texas has already passed legislation and many other states are following suit), unless (of course) their parents opt out or they don’t have the money (because the shots are something like $1000 total).
    Part of the requirement in Texas is that the state is also required to pay for it for families that can’t afford it.

  • EG

    Which is the point of making it mandatory, as others have pointed out in other threads. If it’s mandatory, insurance of all kinds has to foot the bill. Otherwise, we’re basically restricting access to those who can afford it.

  • jerry

    I understand it is claimed that it was made mandatory with opt-out so that insurance companies would pay for it.
    I don’t know how laws and health insurance interact.
    I don’t understand why they just can’t pass a law that says insurance companies must pay for it, without having it have to be mandatory.
    I think it is untested enough and unproven enough that the vaccine should be opt-in.
    At this stage, the default behavior should be: no vaccine. To be an informed patient (parent), you need to learn about the vaccine and opt-in. Not just opt-out.
    Not all states allow opt-out for just any reason.
    All 50 states allow opt-out for medical reasons, but that means you must find a doctor that agrees there is a medical necessity.
    48 states allow opt-out for religious reasons, but some states actually list those religious affiliations that can opt-out. In states where you opt-out due to religious beliefs, it is opt-out of ALL vaccines, not just Gardasil.
    Only 18 states allow opt-out for philosophical personal or conscientiously held beliefs: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.
    Another danger in letting Texas which does have opt-out for philosophical reasons make this mandatory is that that can become the model legislation for states that do not permit the same “ease” of opt-out.
    Opt-out can also raise issues between parents and the State. In the past, parents of children who opted out of vaccinations were threatened with being turned over to Child Protective Services.

  • EG

    “I don’t understand why they just can’t pass a law that says insurance companies must pay for it, without having it have to be mandatory.”
    Nor do I, but I suspect that the Insurance Lobby has something to do with it.

  • SassyGirl

    We opt out, but not many parents know that it is possible. When a vaccine is made mandatory, most parents think that it really is. Doctors and school officials usually do not share that information, they want everyone to think that they don’t have that choice, or they make it hard on them.
    As for helping the poor by making it mandatory, they are the ones who are probably more likely to not have the information about side effects or the ability to opt out. You also have to keep in mind that women on welfare have to give their children all recommended vaccines or they face losing benefits, how is that about choice? You can’t opt out of vaccines and keep all of your benefits, even if you file an exemption.

  • EG

    I didn’t say it wasn’t problematic; I’m just pointing out that not making the vaccine mandatory is also stripping some parents’ of their choices.
    I also wonder about how making the vaccine mandatory might help young girls who do want the vaccine but whose parents don’t want them to have it. Minors have such radically abridged rights in this country that it’s almost a non-issue, but I do wonder about it.

  • EG

    In other words, when we talk about parents’ rights to opt out or opt in, what we’re really talking about is parents’ “rights” over their children’s bodies. Obviously, children don’t have the same rights as adults do, or it would be impossible to care for them. But when we’re talking about 16-year-olds, I wonder if there isn’t some compromising that could be achieved.
    Purely theoretically, of course, because God knows that practically agitating for children’s rights in this country is a no-go.

  • jerry

    There are certainly questions of when our children become responsible for their own affairs, both legally and practically.
    Just to be clear, the Texas program is not aimed at 16 year olds but at 11-12 year olds.
    That’s an age where practically they probably are responsible for their own affairs which is why my strategy for my kids will be to get them as much education as I can by then, and to try to have a relationship with them where they can trust me to talk to me.

  • oenophile

    Minors have such radically abridged rights in this country that it’s almost a non-issue, but I do wonder about it.
    The half-rhetorical, half-serious question: where in the world DO minors have the rights you want for them?
    Furthermore, how is this a child’s rights issue? If the kid wants it, she can get it, when she’s 16 or 18, and the efficacy is the same.
    Kids don’t have rights because they are kids and completely incapable of making good decisions. My sister is 11. Trust me, she’s not old enough to digest the scientfic data behind the vaccine.

  • EG

    First of all, the efficacy is the same in 16- or 18-year-olds only if those girls haven’t contracted HPV before reaching that birthday.
    As I mentioned above, I am aware of why children do not have the same rights as adults. Believe it or not, I actually spend a great deal of time with children. Nor did I claim that minors have the rights I think they should anywhere–or even that they should have the same rights as adults. I wasn’t aware that bringing up the fact that I am not entirely sanguine about the US’s policy of viewing children as property/extensions of their parents and the freedom that parents have to inflict their religious or medical beliefs on their children meant that I had to provide a ten-point plan for the perfect solution.
    But you’re wrong when you say that kids don’t have rights. They certainly do, and there are numerous organizations devoted to advocating on their behalf. Minors even have certain rights in the UK and the EU in general that they don’t have here in the US, pertaining to freedom of conscience and suchlike.

  • oenophile

    Well, EG, my QUESTION about other parts of the world clearly implies that I never stated anything definitive. (Eye roll.)
    The thing is, if we don’t view children as under the control of their parents, then what do we do? Let the State decide to inflict it’s religious or moral views on them? If you strip rights from the parents, you’re either giving them to the kids (who are, by definition, not really mature) or to the government.
    Leftists frequently forget that, after decades of domination of the courts, the White House, and Congress, that giving power to the government can mean giving power to a gov’t that thinks differently than they do. What about a government that FORBIDS parents from “inflicting” their sex-positive views on their children and getting the HPV shot for them?
    “Inflicting” religious beliefs, in my atheistic opinion, is the JOB of parents. You teach the morals, work ethic, and values that are important to you. It’s YOUR kid, not the State’s.
    The efficacy is the same in 16- or 18-year-olds only if those girls haven’t contracted HPV before reaching that birthday.
    Sounds like a personal problem. If you’re old enough to screw, you’re old enough to take care of your body. Get the vaccines, get you and your partner tested, and get birth control.
    I don’t eat meat, in part because of the hormones. I drink organic milk. The idea of the government forcing MORE vaccines into my body (or anyone else’s body) really creeps me out. It’s just not their place to tell parents how to bring up their kids – as if a bunch of lawmakers have a better idea of how to do it than the parents who have changed their diapers, fed them, taught them to walk, talk, read, and tucked them into bed every night.

  • EG

    “Leftists frequently forget that, after decades of domination of the courts, the White House, and Congress, that giving power to the government can mean giving power to a gov’t that thinks differently than they do. ”
    Oh right. Leftists have controlled the government for decades. Sure. That’s why we have free abortion on demand, national ownership of utilities, and a national health care system. Or, you know, not.
    Indeed, you raise valid points. But none of them, in my opinion, make the points I raise any less valid. So we disagree: you don’t have any problem with parents inflicting any and all views on their children, and the children having little or no recourse, and I do. As I said in my previous comment, I think that right now we err too much on the side of parental tyranny, and I like to see the balance shift somewhat.
    “If you’re old enough to screw, you’re old enough to take care of your body.”
    Didn’t you just argue that minors, by definition, aren’t mature enough to make those decisions? Oh well. I agree with this. Which is part of why I object to parents having the only and final about whether or not their kids get the vaccine.

  • EG

    I would also point out that your overly rose picture of parental care excludes the many, many parents who are negligent or abusive. Children in those situations have very few options, because they have so little power, and almost all of the options they do have boil down to “try to find a helpful adult who will believe you.” An organized system of child advocates might just come in handy for them.

  • oenophile

    Not a contradictory argument, EG.
    First of all, 11-year-olds cannot comprehend the scientific issues behind vaccine risk, virus mutation, and potential risks 40 years from now.
    Regardless of what age you are when you have sex, there’s certain things you should do. Going to a doctor is one of them; getting tested is another; finding super-reliable birth control is yet another. I am not saying that minors are per se capable or incapable of making that decision; frankly, it’s a moot point because 17-year-olds are different creatures than the middle school girls being used as Merck’s guinea pigs. If you’re 17 and want to have sex, what’s wrong with going to a doctor yourself?
    It’s not an AGE thing, it’s a maturity thing. If you happen to be a mature minor, then you can figure it out yourself. Otherwise, get the memo that pregnancy and diseases are possible consequences of sex.
    Liberals or very moderate Republicans dominated the White House from FDR up until Reagan. It was only in 2004 that the Republicans had control of all three branches of gov’t. Failure of certain policies of the extreme left (FREE abortion? Pardon me, but that’s freakin sick – why not subsidise the Mafia while we’re at it?) does not equate to lack of control.
    The discerning eye would have noticed the conservative base using liberal policies to its advantage when it prosecuted medical marijuana use in California, followed by assisted suicide in Oregon.
    I don’t think we have parental tyranny, which is why I disagree with you. If you’ve seen the child welfare system in action, it’s not a lack of power over parents that makes it fail; it’s the absurd policies of cracking down on the decent parents and letting the truly abusive ones go.
    Objectively, you also mischaracterise the current state of our laws. In most states, adults who suspect abuse are REQUIRED by law to report it. Teachers, guidance counselors, pastors, coaches – heck, when I taught after-school science to elementary school girls, I was under obligation to report.

  • GamesOnline

    Great post, ES, with a lot of good points.games