Gardasil versus condoms
My conflict comes over the CDC's recommendation that all girls be immunized before starting sixth grade and some states' legislation proposing vaccination be mandatory (so far only Texas has enacted such legislation).
This flows from acknowledgement of HPV as a sexually transmitted disease. Granted, girls/women bear the risk of cervical cancer, but why should they be the only ones vaccinated. In fact, couldn't prevention of disease transmission be achieved just as well by mandating immunization of all boys? [note: I am talking about heterosexual activity here because that is what I assume legislatures are also considering.]
The desire to "protect" eleven-year-old girls from a sexually transmitted disease is admirable. But it raises two issues:
1. Why all the interest in HPV?
We don't mandate, or even recommend, that eleven-year-old boys carry condoms, which are effective against all STDs AND pregnancy, to0. In fact, as Little Red Hen notes, one cannot even distribute free condoms outside New York high schools.
We don't mandate or recommend mandatory use of birth control pills, which would protect girls against unwanted pregnancy (which affects far more girls and women than cervical cancer).
Is it that the thought of a girl with genital warts is more disturbing than that same girl with an unwanted pregnancy? Or that the risks of cervical cancer down the road are more grave than the risks of HIV? This does not make sense.
2. Why intervene in girls' bodies more than boys?
This one is easier. I think it is much easier to think of girls as victims, as timid creatures needing protection. Sexually active boys and girls run similar risks of disease transmission. But boys are almost expected to not only have sex but to inadvertently spread disease as part of it. Those rascally boys, with their herpes and genital warts. Best to do what's best for our daughters and give them extra protection.
How about injecting the boys and empowering our daughters to take control of their own sexuality and health?