Susan Jacoby on Michele Bachmann and the HPV vaccine

This is a few days old, but I haven’t had time to post it.  Over at the Washington Post’s “On Faith” Site, Susan Jacoby is producing an awesome column called “The Spirited Atheist” (kudos to the Post for even having such a feature).  Her latest piece, “Michele Bachmann and anti-HPV vaccine unreason,” is a spirited (and accurate) defense of the safety and efficacy of the human papilloma virus vaccination against those who claim that the vaccination is harmful, causing mental retardation. (There is no evidence for Bachann’s claim about that, by the way).  Jacoby also goes after anti-vaxers in general, contrasting their unsupported and anecdotal “science” against the methods of real science, which showed that early reports by Andrew Wakefield of a connection between MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccines and autism were bogus, based on faked data.

This entire episode, by the way, vitiates the notion of some religious believers that science is “just another religion.” The self-correcting mechanism of science, in which the results of studies must be testable by peers and replicated in order to be accepted, does not exist in religion.. The anti-vaccine crusaders, who continue to believe that immunizations the villain in the face of powerful scientific evidence to the contrary, are the ones in the grip of blind faith.

HPV vaccine, which appears completely safe and almost completely efficacious in preventing the transmission of HPV, which causes cervical cancer, is in the news because Texas governor Rick Perry mandated, wisely, that it be given to all Texas schoolgirls by the age of 12.  Bachmann, right-wing religious loon that she is, objected, mentioning the bogus case of mental retardation that followed such a vaccination and adding:

“To have innocent little 12-year-old girls be forced to have a government injection through an executive order is just flat out wrong. That should never be done. That’s a violation of a liberty interest.”

Jacoby’s response to Bachmann’s shenanigans:

. . .  The HPV vaccine means that young girls, if they are immunized, can grow up with a much lower risk of contracting cervical cancer should they be infected one day by a man who has no knowledge that he is a carrier. HPV, like many sexually transmitted organisms, is so common-researchers think that half of all adults are infected at some point in their lives-that it is a moral crime not to take advantage of an easy way to prevent it from being transmitted and causing cancer and other infections of the reproductive system.

But why listen to your doctor when you can acquire pearls of wisdom from a celebrity-nitwit, whether from the world of politics or entertainment, who thinks she knows better than people who have devoted their careers to scientific research and medicine? Bachmann will never know how many grown women will develop cervical cancer 20 years from now because their parents listened to her ignorant spiel about “innocent” children supposedly menaced by a vaccine endorsed by government a.k.a. evil health officials and scientists who received government a.k.a. evil research grants. Her message, like that of the general anti-vaccine movement, is that feelings, not facts, are what count.

As I’ve said before, what’s behind all this, beyond the unfounded fears of vaccine safety, is the notion that immunization (a series of three shots) will give young girls a license to have sex.  Republicans fear sex far more than Democrats, and that’s why they’re so opposed to HPV vaccination.

But given the vaccine’s safety and efficacy, it should clearly be just as routine an immunization as MMR.  Nevertheless, only two segments of the US—the state of Virginia and the District of Columbia—have required vaccination for girls entering the sixth grade.  Perry’s propsal will still enable students to opt out of the mandate, which in effect eliminates the requirement for vaccination.

Given the pervasiveness of the virus (roughly 30% of women are infected), I tend to agree with a mandate that doesn’t allow opting out.  But HPV is different from MMR or other vaccines that protect one from infections that can be transmitted passively.  To get HPV, you have to have sex, and some kids don’t or won’t.  I think most of us probably agree that there should at least be a strong recommendation that all girls (and boys, too, who can be carriers) get vaccinated, but how do you feel about giving children the ability to opt out?

176 Comments

  1. Screechy Monkey
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    I think the sexually transmitted aspect of HPV is an argument against allowing opt-out.

    It creates a temptation for children and parents to opt out solely as a means of signalling that “my child is a good child who isn’t going to have sex any time soon (and would never, ever, get an STI)!” and conversely stigmatizes those who don’t opt out as “dirty, dirty sluts.”

    Now, to paraphrase George Carlin, we could just get rid of religion and make the entire problem of slut-shaming go away in a couple of generations (note to the literal-minded: I’m exaggerating), but we don’t have time for that. So instead you have a mandate with opt-outs only for medical necessity. Then, since everyone is getting the HPV vaccine, there’s no signalling or stigma involved, and the puritans can just stick to making their kids take Purity Pledges and attend Daddy-Daughter Abstinence Balls. They’ll complain about how they’re being oppressed and persecuted for the benefit of the dirty slutty girls, which should make them happy as there’s little they love more than complaining about being persecuted and oppressed.

    • RFW
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      The situation described in your second paragraph is very close to the “pastor’s children syndrome.” It’s the kids that grow up in the most puritan households who are the wildest when their hormones start to rage.

      There’s also a very close alignment between the Bachmannesque anti-HPV vaccine crowd and the anti-sex ed crowd. The sad part is that they are so obsessed with sex they don’t realize that in, e g the Netherlands, where sex education is very thorough, the age of first intercourse is quite high – approaching 20 y.o. in some accounts.

      The ignoramus-and-proud-of-it gang rants about bibblical this and that, but they never bother to actually crack open their bibbles and read John 8:32:

      “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

      While the scriptural quote actually refers to the truth of christianity, it strikes a resonant note in many other regards. Tell the kids the truth about sex, homosexuality, birth control, etc and they will be freed from fear and ignorance on those important matters.

      • Dawn Oz
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

        That’s one of my fave biblical quotes, however he left out, ‘but first it will hurt like hell’. Giving up our shibboleths and various parts of our ‘ego’ is difficult for all of us. However, on the other side, there is immense freedom.’ The existentialists also understood the fear of freedom. Those of us who are educated critical thinkers, at various points in our lives will be challenged with our own precious beliefs/prejudices and will yield to the uncommon sense of reason.

    • Kevin
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Of course, the statistics show that girls who make “purity” pledges are more likely to engage in anal sex than their “non-pure” counterparts.

      Because up the butt isn’t sex. Only penile-vaginal penetration counts as “sex”.

      Which makes one wonder why they’re so bothered about homosexuality…but that’s an entirely different subject.

      • Bacopa
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        The official term for this behavior is Saddlebacking.

        The practice got it’s name in honor of Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church.

    • Sastra
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the usual concerns of the anti-vaxx crowd overlaps with the concerns of the fundamentalists in this case: the fear of “toxins.” In particular, fear of Government putting “toxins” into a body which God/The Goddess/Nature designed to run perfectly using only the things that are natural.

      Think of it as yet another example of what happens when there is a fetish made about “Purity.” Religious and spiritual thought processes often seem disproportionately and irrationally over-concerned with the value and importance of remaining Pure (as you were intended to be.) Flesh and the “toxins” of the material world will only corrupt you.

      • EFW
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

        Funny you should mention religious purity.

        I’m reading “Hindu Manners, Customs, and Ceremonies” by Abbe J. A. DuBois. [See bibliographical squib at end of this posting.]

        The abbe has a lengthy, detailed description of the Brahminical obsession with purity and freedom from defilement — and adds that in secret, the Brahmins of his day were quite happy to violate caste rules, just as long as no one knew. As the Brahmins of then, so the puritans of today. One can almost be certain that the louder some fundie-evangelist-hater rants about this or that impurity or sin, the more he wants to engage in it — and probably does.

        Bibliographical squib: Book first published in 1806, revised in 1815, revision not published until 1897. I’m reading the Dover reprint from 2002.

      • Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:27 am | Permalink

        Paging General Ripper…

      • GeorgeM
        Posted September 28, 2011 at 6:15 am | Permalink

        Overheard at work yesterday: “Government-mandated inoculations could be used to inject RFIDs (microchips) into everybody”

  2. Tulse
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    how do you feel about giving children the ability to opt out?

    As minors, they can’t have the ability to opt out, or opt in — that is legally the responsibility of their parents. And in situations like this, I would be happy with the parents being legally able to opt out if their child is then allowed to sue them if they contract cervical cancer from HPV.

  3. Kevin
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    So, let’s be clear about this.
    The HPV vaccine doesn’t just protect school-aged girls from getting the virus. As far as we know (data aren’t complete), the vaccine protects from the time the girl gets the vaccine until well after girls/women become sexually active in their 20s and 30s.
    It’s best to vaccinate prior to acquisition of HPV. Since SOME girls start having sex earlier, and since there is no way to determine which girls will have sex and which will defer sex, it’s better that that they have protection earlier.
    Rape is also common. To protect a girl against a rapist’s disease seems to me to be one of the all-time no-brainers.

  4. SWH
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    For what it’s worth we ended up paying for our daughter to get this vaccine (she was the right age before our insurance covered it) and are now looking at the same situation with our son (who as a male is not covered – I’m looking for some logic in there!)

    The standard approach seems to be an “opt out” option. (I hate to think that I might agree with Perry on anything, but there you go). I don’t think that one should be forcing these things on people but I’m disgusted by the data-free political posturing that scares poorly educated (and indeed some well educated) people away.

    • Kevin
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

      I think it depends on the strength of the “opt-out” provisions, and how strictly or loosely they’re applied.

      Case in point — last year, a major health system decided that it would mandate influenza vaccine for its workers. No vaccine, no job. There were opt outs for religious or health reasons (egg allergy, Gillain-Barre, etc.).

      98.4% of the workers received the vaccine, 1.24% got a health exemption, 0.35% got a religious exemption. It’s funny how few religions actually teach against vaccination when you get right down to it.

      Only 0.03% of workers were not complaint — and lost their jobs as a result.

      If you have that kind of “opt out”, I’m all for it.

      Citation: Babcock HM, Gemeinhart N, Jones M, Dunagan WC, Woeltje KF. Mandatory influenza vaccination of health care workers: translating policy to practice. Clin Infect Dis. 2010 Feb 15;50(4):459-64.

      • Kevin
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

        …compliant…profreedng is ur freend.

      • Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        It’s funny how few religions actually teach against vaccination when you get right down to it.

        Which is why I agree with Jerry that Bachmann is tossing the retardation canard out there more or less as a red herring, and that her fundamental motivation for opposition is a religious concern that this vaccine will cause little girls to go on crazy sex rampages.

        *eyeroll*

  5. Adam
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    It’s amazing how someone as dumb as Perry becomes the voice of reason by default.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:10 am | Permalink

      The vaccine manufacturer donated to his campaign. I think that had a lot to do with his reasonableness on this issue.

      • KP
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        Yes, it’s amazing how easily the Lord is defeated by the Dollar.

      • Microraptor
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

        It has to be the first time that evidence of their selling out has actually caused me to increase my approval of someone.

  6. Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I simply don’t understand opting out of a vaccine that can save your life. Children are not responsible/experienced/informed enough to make such an important decision…neither are a fair number of adults.

    • eric
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      There are a few of nonreligious (non-slut argument) reasons why one might not want to do it. Fear of side-effects. Belief the risk of cancer is low enough not to worry about. Plus some folk may be consciously trying the ‘defector’ strategy: since you get the same vaccine benefit without any of the risks if everyone except your child gets vaccinated, everyone would ideally like their child to be the one and only exception.

      I think all of those reasons are either not supported by evidence or unethical, but I can see how some people might believe otherwise.

  7. Nancy
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    My daughter received the HPV vaccine when she became sexually active. I researched the pros and cons of the vaccine and I couldn’t come up with a reason why she shouldn’t. But, damn if I want the government forcing me to have her vaccinated. It should NOT be as “routine” as the MMR since those diseases can be spread through casual contact which no one has control over.

    I feel the same way about being ticketed for NOT wearing my seat belt. Of course, it saves lives…..but, it’s MY life I’m risking by NOT wearing one.

    Meanwhile, I can’t smoke marijuana in Illinois, eventhough I have a medical condition (Multiple Sclerosis) that would benefit from being able to do so.

    Furthermore, our young adults can serve their country (and be gravely injured or killed in the process) but, they can’t be served alcohol until they are 21.

    I know, I know, I’m off topic but, it’s Monday and I am in an anti-government mode.

    • Kevin
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      ….so, you’re saying your daughter has control over getting raped?

      1 in 6 women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape.

      “Good girls” get raped, too. The most common form of rape is date rape — a good girl goes out with a good boy, and the next thing you know, nonconsensual sex happens.

      I think this “anti-government” mindset is toxic. You don’t like the law — work to change the law. Nobody said the law is perfect. Nobody is saying the government is perfect. And I’m certainly not saying that there aren’t perfect morons in government (Governor Goodhair being an example).

      But don’t throw your hands up and say “they’re all bad”. And don’t decide to act against your own interests just because you don’t like some laws.

      • Nancy
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        Excuse me? Exactly where did I write “they’re all bad”? There are many, many laws (i.e. drinking and driving laws) that are spot-on.

        I don’t have an “anit-government” mindset. I am simply unwilling to hand over decisions that should be MINE to make to our gov’t.

        For me, this is not an anti-vaccine issue. This is an anti-gov’t interference issue. Should the gov’t also force me to have the annual flu vaccine? Influenza is certainly more prevalent and more life threatening than HPV (not to mention more contagious).

        • David
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          There are actually good reasons to require seatbelts its not just for your safety. chances are even without wearing a seatbelt you would survive, but you have a high risk of becoming a permanently injured person becoming a large burden on society. If we can cut down on a large number of severe injuries by simply requiring a very cheap and easy method of safety then it is worth it.

          You may be tempted to come back with the really stupid “slippery slope” argument or the nanny state routine, don’t bother. Requiring a seatbelt is not an unreasonable requirement and neither is requiring a vaccine. Both are trivial requirements for huge benefits if not specifically to you than to the society you choose to live in.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink

          I don’t have an “anit-government” mindset. I am simply unwilling to hand over decisions that should be MINE to make to our gov’t.

          well, that’s all relative isn’t it?

          unlike issues of pregnancy, where it really is all up to you, issues of transmittable diseases affect us all. You are making decisions for ALL of us.

          this is where govt rightly has an interest to play.

          your concept of division of how contagious something is is not rational. just because something is transmitted by sex, DOESN’T make it innately different in transmissability. In fact, since HPV can easily stay hidden, but still transmissable, and does affect both sexes, it in some ways is actually HARDER to control.

          Should the gov’t also force me to have the annual flu vaccine? Influenza is certainly more prevalent and more life threatening than HPV

          wait… influenza is far more survivable than cervical cancer.

          you have some very strange ideas here.

        • Kevin
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink

          …and what decisions to you think are YOURS versus the government?

          If you want to work in the restaurant business, the government FORCES you to get a hepatitis A vaccine. If you want to work in the healthcare industry, it FORCES you get vaccinated against hepatitis B. If you want to send your kids to school, you’re being FORCED to vaccinate them against measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria. FORCE, I tell ya.

          When you get into your car, you’re FORCED to wear your seatbelt. You’re FORCED to put your child in an age-appropriate car seat. You’re even FORCED to have car insurance.

          You want to go eat at a restaurant? You’re FORCED to wear shoes (go figure). Want to smoke in that restaurant? Not if you’re eating in 38 states, you don’t. You’re FORCED not to smoke.

          Heck, want to walk outdoors? You’re FORCED to wear something that covers your genitalia (although oddly enough, women going topless isn’t a crime in most places). Shouldn’t that decision be YOURS?

          Like it or not, you live in a society where for various ethical reasons, rules are regarded as being good things. Those rules FORCE your behavior. Some of those rules enforce your behavior with regard to health matters for you and/or your minor children.

          No, you don’t get to choose just because you believe that the choice should be yours. Sorry, that’s not how it works around here. And by “here”, I mean pretty much everywhere.

        • Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:45 am | Permalink

          Have you consideredthr possibility that your next sexual partner might be a carrier/infected with HPV and either not know it or simply not tell you? Would you really just shrug your shoulders and say “well, it was his/his previous partner’s personal choice. I’m cool with that.”?

          And then there’s Kevin’s point about rape.

    • Tulse
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:06 am | Permalink

      I feel the same way about being ticketed for NOT wearing my seat belt. Of course, it saves lives…..but, it’s MY life I’m risking by NOT wearing one.

      And when you don’t drive on roads that the government built and is responsible for, you can do what you want.

      • Nancy
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink

        Tulse – That’s pretty lame. Those roads you’re talking about………..I’m pretty sure that the millions we (the people) pay in tolls help build those. Not to mention the money we pay in state income tax and state sales tax.

        • Tulse
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

          I’m pretty sure that the millions we (the people) pay in tolls help build those.

          Yep, and we (the people) determined through our representatives that you have to wear seatbelts while driving on them.

          • Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink

            Therefore every mandate that we (the people) ever put into law is a good one. QED.

            • Tulse
              Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:06 am | Permalink

              Of course not, and if Nancy wants to advocate for the repeal of seatbelt laws, she is welcome to.

              • Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

                Which should have been your first reply to Nancy’s comment, not your third. Your other two were annoying non-sequiturs.

              • Tulse
                Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:30 am | Permalink

                I disagree. My first comment pointed out that Nancy is completely free to drive as she likes on her private property, or on the private property of others — it is only on public roads where her behaviour is governed, roads that she does not personally own, and which are under collective control through government. When she noted that “the people” pay to create and maintain those roads, I then merely noted that the same mechanisms that are involved in the collective decision to create and maintain those roads are also involved in the determination of the laws that apply to them.

                But I am profoundly sorry if you were annoyed.

              • Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

                …As if the government were free to control us in any way they like on public property. The government would have to have a damn good reason to mandate what flavor of bubblegum we chew as we drive down the highway, and they would similarly need a good reason to mandate that we wear seatbelts. In reality there may be a good reason, but to argue that the government doesn’t need one because it’s a public road is just wrong. And what did you accomplish by writing that comment, other than being wrong-headedly condescending?

              • Tulse
                Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

                As if the government were free to control us in any way they like on public property.

                Of course it isn’t — it is bound in the US by the Constitution (which “the people” approved and occasionally amend) and by laws (which “the people” enacted through their representatives).

                Libertarians act as if “the government” were some entity completely independent of citizen control. It’s not.

                In reality there may be a good reason, but to argue that the government doesn’t need one because it’s a public road is just wrong.

                I didn’t say “the government” (i.e., the representatives of “the people”) didn’t need a good reason for laws, but merely pointed out that the restrictions Nancy was complaining about are only in effect where exercising her liberties is no longer a purely private matter, but involves the public sphere. In that sphere, we have generally agreed that “the people” as a collective have the right to establish laws that govern individual behaviour. Yes, those laws should be justified in some fashion, but Nancy’s complaint seemed to be simply that her behaviour was limited, and not that such limitation might be collectively justified.

              • Tulse
                Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

                Sorry — there should also be a law about properly closing one’s blockquote tags…

              • Ichthyic
                Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

                Sorry — there should also be a law about properly closing one’s blockquote tags…

                and a law against nested comments on blogs, er sorry, WEBSITES…

                your previous comment looked like you typed in one word per line.

                😛

            • Kevin
              Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

              One does not get to pick and choose what laws they obey just by virtue of their own opinions.

              Like them or not, laws are made via a pretty well-established process. Don’t like the law? Go through that well-established process to change the law.

              Don’t like the law and break the law? Be prepared to face the consequences of breaking that law. Even a bad law.

              The whole point of the civil rights movement in the 1960s was that the people who got arrested while breaking bad laws understood the fact that they faced punishment IN ORDER THAT a bad law would be exposed, and political will would be brought to bear to change the law. A lot of people spent a LOT of time in jail.

              We’re either a nation of laws, or we’re not. And like it or not, you don’t get to choose which laws are OK and which aren’t.

              Advocate any other course of action and you’re advocating anarchy. One law for you, one for someone else. It’s un-American, un-Western civilization. It’s wrong. Stop it.

              /end rant.

              • truthspeaker
                Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

                “And like it or not, you don’t get to choose which laws are OK and which aren’t. ”

                Speak for yourself. I’m lighting up a joint in a few hours, and while I’d like the laws prohibiting marijuana to be repealed, I’m not going to let the fact that they’re still in force stop me.

              • Kevin
                Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

                @TS.

                I have no problem with you toking up. Fire away.

                However, if you get busted, I also have no problem with you facing the penalty for such behavior in the state in which you live.

                Yes, they’re bad laws. Go ahead, disobey them — as long as you’re willing to face the consequences for disobeying bad laws.

                The issue here is that people want consequence-free decision-making power. They want to decide that it’s OK to have their newborn baby ride in their laps while they drive without their seat belts. They want to be able to drip hepatitis-infected blood from an open scab into their customer’s iced tea. They want to be able to smoke any damn place they want to, regardless of whether anyone else in the room is a smoker. And they want me to be OK with that.

                No. Sorry.

                Either we’re a nation of laws, or we’re not.

                I’m not perfect. I speed on occasion. In my youth (not for at least 35 years), I drove after having one-too-many beers. And if I got busted for that behavior, I would have paid the price. Not because the law was just, but because it was the law.

                Just or unjust, the law is the law. Don’t like the law, fine, work toward improving the law. But don’t complain if the law requires you to comply with its provisions in the meantime.

                I find it very difficult to figure out why that so many otherwise rational people cannot “get” this simple fact about the social contract we call government.

    • Grania
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

      While I can somewhat appreciate your dislike for government officials making medical policy, here is why that isn’t a good argument against that policy:

      Issue 1: You are the sort of parent who did the research and made a good decision. However, make this vaccine optional and see how many parents make the opposite choice owing to misinformation and political and / or religious sloganeering. A case in point would be to look up current rates of whooping cough in California.

      Issue 2: You say that you and your daughter made this decision when she became sexually active. That probably means “a little bit after” she became sexually active; which means that she ran the risk of having already been exposed to the virus by the time she was vaccinated. Very few people in Western society (and probably many others) manage to plan ahead to the degree when they know the exact time and date they will become sexually active. That is why sooner is better than later.

      • Nancy
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        No, that’s NOT what it means. But, thanks for clearing that up for me. Our insurance, at that time, covered the vaccine so we had her vaccinated. Now she is 23 and we have discussed her FIRST time and I was correct in saying she was vaccinated BEFORE she became sexually active.

        • Kevin
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

          Oh right. No daughter has ever lied to her mother about when she became sexually active.

          Are you really that naive?

          Wow. Just. Wow.

          • Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:23 am | Permalink

            Or, you know, she actually has an honest relationship with her daughter. Like the one I have with my girlfriend. Or are you advocating that I stop trusting her because of the statistic that in human history, girlfriends have lied to their boyfriends?

            • Kevin
              Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:43 am | Permalink

              Statistically speaking, the odds are not on your side. Or hers.

              Should you “trust” someone? Sure. Should you blindly accept any damn thing they say on issues where lying not only protects one party from harm (anything from being grounded to actual physical harm), it also protects the other’s opinion of the first party? Um…not so much.

              • Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

                So far, we are agreed.

                But I would say – and this is what you must disagree with in order to have made your comment – that there are cases in which a mother is justified in trusting her daughter.

                Apparently you are of the opinion that when it comes to sex, this is never justified, and always naive. I can’t imagine what evidence you must have to know this. I’m sure it must be good, given your willingness to say something that would be insulting if you were wrong.

          • Nancy
            Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

            Why would she lie at 23? What would be the point? What’s done is done. Oh, she also smoked weed, had parties when my husband and I were on vacation and slipped out through her bedroom window regularly when we though she was asleep. (I won’t even tell you what my boys, ages 27 and 25 did at that age.) You see, they love telling their parents these things AFTER the fact. I just smile now. They all turned out okay.

            And, I feel kind of sad for you Kevin because you obviously don’t understand that this level of honesty is possible between parents and their children.

            Wow..just wow. LOL

            • Kevin
              Posted September 26, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

              The problem, my dear, is that you’re extrapolating your experience (which, I have to declare is about as rare as unicorns in terms of what I see each and every day in the real world) to the entire population.

              Kids lie. They especially lie to their parents about sex. Even most especially their daughters lie about who they had sex with, and when they had sex. And even adult children lie to their parents (or stretch the truth via selective memory). Because the lie saves face.

              In 2007, there was a Kinsey Institute study of the “abstinence only” education programs, which found that 26% of 15 year old girls had already had sex. 40% by age 16, 49% by age 17, and 70% by age 18.

              So, if one defers the HPV vaccine — which is what we’re talking about — until age 18, then its effectiveness is blunted in up to 70% of those who receive it.

              So, trust your daughter. You’re a living, breathing Gilmore Girls episode. But let’s not pretend that’s representative of the planet we live on.

            • Ichthyic
              Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

              Why would she lie at 23? What would be the point?

              Is she running for political office?

    • sasqwatch
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      No one has pointed this out so far, so I will. The flaw in your seat belt reasoning (besides the personal injury one that may cost others in general health care costs) is this:

      With a seat belt on, you are MUCH more likely to retain control of your car in some adverse circumstance. When you choose to not wear your seatbelt, you ARE actually putting others around you at risk. Losing control of your car, on a busy highway, is a chain event.

      • Nancy
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

        Okay..that’s a really bizzare statement. What does WEARING a seat belt have to do w/ me maintaining control of my car. Is there some mechanism is the seat belt itself that makes me a better driver? Can you provide any stats to back up what you are stating? Wearing a seat belt does NOT help one MAINTAIN control of vehicle. It simply makes it less likely that I will fly through the window and end up injured or dead.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

          The seat belt holds you in your seat. It’s not bizarre, it’s a well-known fact about seatbelts, and it’s also the one and only reason I’m OK (barely) with seat belt laws.

        • Tulse
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

          Wearing a seat belt does NOT help one MAINTAIN control of vehicle.

          As sasquatch said, it does “in some adverse circumstance” — these would include collisions, where being belted in and thus retaining control may help you avoid further and more devastating collision(s).

        • sasqwatch
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

          As truthspeaker said (and Tulse underscored) – it’s actually a very well-known factoid. Minor collisions (esp. a minor sideways glance) can rip you from the controls much more easily when you’re not belted in, leading to much, much worse. It all happens so fast. Not BIZARRE, but commonly taught in drivers’ ed course worldwide.

          Try this in a Google search:

          “seat belt” “maintain control”

          Then find the stats yourself (keeping in mind life is not a scientific study, and crash stats vary from place to place in how they are compiled and cross-referenced). I’m too busy to educate you right now.

        • Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

          Wearing a seatbelt also means you pose less of a threat to other passengers in your car, should you be involved in a collision.

          • Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

            By serving as a source of trauma yourself, I mean.

  8. Sigmund
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I’ve seen the results of HPV screening on teenagers here in Sweden. Over 70% of girls below the age of 18 are positive for the virus (they didn’t check boys – why, I’m not sure.) It just shows that early vaccination is necessary to make a substantial impact on the infection rate and thus the chances of getting cervical cancer or other cancers that are linked to this virus.

    • Kevin
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Boys don’t get Pap smears.

      • CW
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

        Shh, don’t let the MRAs hear that!

      • Sigmund
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

        It wasn’t a pap smear test for the virus as far as I can recall, it was some sort of ELISA assay to see if antibodies for the viral antigens were present in the bloodstream – thus indicating that the individual had been exposed in the past to the virus. The main point made from the study was that early vaccination is necessary, not simply waiting until the teenager reaches the appropriate or legal age for sexual intercourse before giving them the vaccine.

    • Kevin
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      …also, the vaccine is more effective when given to someone who hasn’t been exposed to the virus. Which means before they become sexually active — however soon or far after vaccination that might be.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      AFAIK there is no way to detect it in boys.

      • Thinkative
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        HPV DNA can be detected on the penis by simply callecting a swabbed sample of the shaft and glans. DNA can also be collected from the anus with a modified pap type test. HPV4 vaccine is indicated to prevent HPV infections and anal cancers in males.

        • Bacopa
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

          Go public about your HPV experience day was last week. SO I’ll go public here today. Sometimes there are noticeable symptoms for the guys. I had no insurance at the time so I went to Planned Parenthood. $80 for the first visit. $25 for subsequent visits once you’re in the system. They handed me a piece of paper with pictures of vulvas and penises and I had to put X’s where the visible lesions were. Two quick acid swabs, pretty high up so not a lot of pain, and I was as good as new in ten days.

          Everyone take note, Planned Parenthood helps guys too. Planned Parenthood is awesome, but not just because they help guys, though they’d be a little less awesome if they didn’t.

          At any rate, get the boys vaccinated too. Girls are a higher priority because the consequences are potentially worse for them, but some guy wont have to get an acid burn if he gets the vaccine, and let me tell you, that burn would really hurt if it were further down than what I had. Plus a guy couldn’t be a vector between two unvaccinated women. Maximum herd immunity requires that at least a few boys need to get vaccinated.

          I may still get vaccinated even though I am what used to be called middle aged. The Doc at Planned Parenthood told me that there is some research that suggests that being infected with one strain prevents wou from catching another strain, but that I should be careful and take care of myself because that’s not certain and healthy lifestyle habits can prevent a recurrence of symptoms from the strain you already have. Maybe I should call PP and see if they’ve got a discount option. Office visit is just $25.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

            Girls are a higher priority because the consequences are potentially worse for them

            Anal cancer ain’t no picnic.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

          DNA can also be collected from the anus with a modified pap type test.

          I’ll make sure to mention that the next time I get a prostate exam…

  9. truthspeaker
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Even if they don’t have sex while children, almost all of them will have sex as adults.

    Unfortunately, it’s my understanding that the HPV vaccine only provides protection for a few years, so they will need boosters anyway. So for that reason I’m OK with an opt-out as long as the risks are explained.

    Also, if the vaccine is effective in males, then it should be required for boys and girls, not just boys.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:17 am | Permalink

      ^ not just GIRLS.

      Not my day to type, apparently.

    • Thinkative
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Both available HPV vaccines are thought to confer long term immunity. Currently there is research showing efficacy at 8 years with no waning immunity. Patients also show robust and rapid immune responses to antigen challenge at least 5 years after vaccination. It is highly unlikely that any boosters will be required but as with any relatively new vaccine, only time will tell.

    • Janet Holmes
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

      Both my boys are vaccinated against HPV as well as my daughter. It stops them getting it and passing it on to others, male or female.

      Since most girls will get it from a boy I do not understand why they aren’t routinely vaccinated as well.

      • Marella
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        Huh, suddenly I’m not Marella any more, I will fix that.

  10. christopher
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    rethuglican parents need to accept that one day, darling little tammy-sue is going to get busy with bubba-joe, and probably sooner than later. kids grow up, atleast the lucky ones do, and we might as well give them the best chance for survival that we can. of course, if the rethuglicans are so afraid of sex, they should stop having it: problem solved; population control and end of rethuglian political control all in one!

  11. Matt Penfold
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Jacoby also goes after anti-vaxers in general, contrasting their unsupported and anecdotal “science” against the methods of real science, which showed that early reports by Andrew Wakefield of a connection between MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccines and autism were bogus, based on faked data.

    Over at PZ’s blog an anti-vax blogger, Jenny Hatch, turned up and started spouting the usual ant-vax rubbish. Pharyngula being Pharyngula the regulars were none to gentle in laying into her poor arguments.

    In the end she flounced, complaining that if people insisted she stick to scientific evidence rather than anecdote she had nothing to argue with. Of course that little bit of unintended honesty came with swipe at “big pharma”.

    • Posted September 27, 2011 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      What I said on the Pharyngula site is that no parent or group of parents could afford to conduct scientific, double blind, placebo studies that could be used to counter the junk science that is paid for by drug companies.

      So for PZ and his motley crew of Big Pharma apologists to demand that I back up my assertions that vaccines do damage some of us with scientific evidence is a straw man argument. They know that “scientific” literature does not exist and that the only “evidence” families possess is in fact our anecdotal stories.

      For them to say, “end of story, no more debate, you did not furnish the evidence required for true scientific debate” is simply dodging the evidence. Over 100 girls have died after getting thr HPV shot and 20,000 have had serious adverse events.

      Parents should be the ones to make these life or death decisions, not government or the Merck Politicians.

      Jenny Hatch
      http://WWW.NATURALFAMILYBLOG.COM

      • Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        Jenny,

        Do you honestly believe medical scientists, researchers and other professionals are all evil masterminds, plotting together to murder children and get rich doing it?

        Is it really a problem of funding that there aren’t scientific studies concluding that not only are vaccines ineffective, but actually cause serious illness/death?  Jenny and Jim don’t have a few dollars to spend on something like that?

        Do please look into something called the “post hoc” fallacy.  To illustrate this fallacy: I recently finished a course of antibiotics, and two days later broke out into awful hives and wheals.  I hadn’t eaten anything out of the ordinary or been in a new environment.  I figured I had finally discovered a medication to which I was allergic.  Well, just a few days ago I broke out into hives again.  No antibiotics, though.  I thought for a bit about what the common factor might be.  I had just been to an Asian restaurant, where my food was cooked in peanut oil.  The first outbreak occurred on the way home from a hiking trip during which I ate, you guessed it, trail mix with peanuts (which I’ve eaten many times before).

        So what’s going on, Jenny?  Am I allergic to the antibiotics or have I just now developed an allergy to peanuts?  Or is it both?  Or might there be another explanation yet, and I’m just not thinking of it?  Without further, scientific testing, we won’t know.  Children die for myriad reasons.  Some of those children have received vaccines.  This demonstrates nothing.

        After carefully weighing everything, we do not vaccinate for anything

        Please, please, please, for the sake of your children and anyone else with whom members of your family may come into contact, do some more, some better, weighing.

        • Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

          I have “weighed” the vaccine issue for over twenty years. My oldest daughter will be 23 in a few weeks. No issue has brought more inquiry, more legitimate and focused research than this issue of how best to increase health and wellness in families and society.

          I would challenge you to suspend disbelief and do A little digging. The history of the Vaccine Industry, the true history, reads like a horror novel.

          Leonard Horowitzs books are recognized as the best by all of us in the Health Freedom Movement. But PLEASE, only eat that Red Pill if you truly want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

          Many Biologists, reporters, whistleblowers and activists have been terrorized and murdered for attempting to tell the truth about vaccines.

          My blog has also ruffled some vaccine manufacturers feathers and the blowback has been deadly: http://jennyhatch.com/2011/09/22/top-25-posts-at-the-natural-family-blog-vaccines-vaccines-and-more-vaccines/

          Jenny Hatch

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

            LOL, yeah I’ve seen your “work” Jenny.

            how many people have told you you’re insane?

            for those that aren’t clued in, I tell them to indeed check out your website.

            if they don’t come away thinking you’re laughably nuts, then they belong there.

            • Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

              Well, I must have struck a nerve somewhere with somebody over the past six years because they have been doing their damndest to shut me up.

              http://bloggingmothersmagazine.com/2011/08/31/american-style-terrorism/

              Happy Trails!

              Jenny Hatch
              My Granduer is NO delusion

              • Ichthyic
                Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

                but, according to you, hundreds of microbiologists have already been MURDERED by BIG PHARMA!

                surely they wouldn’t think twice about knocking off a pissant like yourself?

                or could there be something wrong with your conspiracy theory, perhaps…

                tell you what:

                if you disappear under mysterious circumstances in the next year, never to return, I’ll think again about your conspiracy theory.

                nutter.

              • Microraptor
                Posted September 28, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink

                Please.

                A charitable description of what you’re doing would be “tilting at windmills.”

                But as you’re advocating something that’s actually shown to be harmful while making outright slanderous accusations on a story that’s intellectually on the same level as “shapeshifting lizards control the government,” I’m more inclined to simply call it outright fearmongering and paranoid delusion.

      • Microraptor
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

        Jenny, you’re saying that there’s a vast conspiracy among medical professionals that’s existed for more than half a century all over the world that’s bent on making money by forcing people to take harmful vaccines that don’t provide any benefit, then crying that you don’t have the money to conduct your own medical study when anyone asks you for proof.

        Why in the unspeakable name of Cthulhu would you expect anyone to take you seriously?

        • Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

          I would LOVE to see a study conducted on thousands of unvaccinated children comparing them to vaccinated children.

          Many of us have been calling on the drug companies to do just that.

          I don’t expect anyone to take anything I say seriously, but when you rip families annecdotal stories out of the conversation….NOTHING is left to debate with except the so called science of those who profit from the sale of the vaccines.

          Demanding that parents provide the impossible to back up assertions that children have died or been permanently damaged by vaccines puts the debate squarely back on the statistics of drug makers who claim the socialistic “greater good” is served if a hundred girls drop dead after getting the gardasil shot.

          Well, Not if it is MY DAUGHTER who dies after getting the shot. We will take our chances with a cervical cancer that has only proved to be deadly to fifty year old prostitutes who smoke a couple packs of cigarettes a day.

          Jen

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

            I would LOVE to see a study conducted on thousands of unvaccinated children comparing them to vaccinated children.

            Liar.

            if this were correct, then you would already be aware that there have been many studies of that type already done.

            In fact, proving a drug is more than a placebo is part and parcel of getting FDA approval to begin with.

            take your lies and shove them where the sun don’t shine.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        could be used to counter the junk science that is paid for by drug companies.

        it’s FUCKING SCIENCE.

        you don’t have to do science to even counter it.

        all you have to do first is show the methods, analysis, statistics, or conclusions are faulty for whichever peer-reviewed study you care to deal with.

        you can’t do that, so instead you cry “conspiracy”

        you do far more harm than good TO YOUR OWN CAUSE.

        nutter.

    • Posted September 27, 2011 at 5:17 am | Permalink

      Matt,

      Here is the Gardasil roundup on my Blog, I have been writing about it for a long time. Parents have to be the ones making these decisions.

      http://jennyhatch.com/2011/09/23/roundup-of-all-blog-posts-that-mention-gardasil-just-for-rick-perry-and-his-crony-capitalists/

      We are the ones paying for the medical bills, the funeral bills, and our children are the ones who have to live with the long term consequences of vaccine side effects.

      After carefully weighing everything, we do not vaccinate for anything.

      Jenny Hatch

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

        I have been writing lying about it for a long time.

        fixed.

    • Posted September 27, 2011 at 5:18 am | Permalink

      Oh, and for those interested, here is the link to the debate from Free Thoughts blog: http://jennyhatch.com/2011/09/16/a-lovely-chat-with-some-folks-over-at-free-thoughts-blog/

      Jenny Hatch

  12. Matt Penfold
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    With regards the HPV in boys, there is an ethical issue involved which is not trivial.

    There is a general consensus within the medical profession, and within society, that medical treatment should only be offered to those who will gain some direct benefit. In the case of the normal childhood vaccines the benefit to the recipient is obvious as they normally gain immunity to the disease being vaccinated against. When it comes to the HPV the benefit to boys is not so obvious. Boys vaccinated with HPV will not pass on the virus to their sexual partners, but will not receive much benefit directly.

    Now there are good arguments for vaccinating boys as well, but it is an issue that needs careful consideration.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      I’m a male, and I see a direct benefit in not being the carrier of a disease, even if that disease doesn’t affect me.

      • Matt Penfold
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        No, that is not what is considered a direct benefit. It is not you who will get ill.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:54 am | Permalink

          actually, that isn’t necessarily the case.

          various strains of HPV can also cause cancers in men, too:

          …can cause penile, anal, or oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the back of throat including base of tongue and tonsils)

          that’s straight from the CDC:

          http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/stdfact-hpv-and-men.htm

          it’s a low chance, but it’s there.

          • Thinkative
            Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

            HPV 6 and 11 cause 90% of genital warts and you have a 10% lifetime risk of having an episode. HPV 16 and 18 are implicated in numerous male cancers with the main ones affect the oropharageal tract. Deaths from these cancers are close to the yearly deaths from cervical cancers in females.

            Neither vaccine claims to prevent these cancers, but theoretically, they should show some benefit. I believe research in this area is ongoing.

            • Thinkative
              Posted September 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

              One other point, vaccination does not necessarily mean you won’t transmit the virus. Due to the nature of HPV infections, one can have a low level infection for some time before the immune system recognizes the virus and clears it. What vaccination does do is prevent persistent infections which is a necessary precursor to cancerous lesions.

            • Ichthyic
              Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

              Neither vaccine claims to prevent these cancers

              actually, they defacto DO.

              why?

              because ALL known cases of cervical cancer in women are traceable to HPV infection.

              look it up:

              http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/%28SICI%291096-9896%28199909%29189:1%3C12::AID-PATH431%3E3.0.CO;2-F/abstract

              …the worldwide HPV prevalence in cervical carcinomas is 99·7 per cent. The presence of HPV in virtually all cervical cancers implies the highest worldwide attributable fraction so far reported for a specific cause of any major human cancer.

              so, yeah, if you are vaccinated against HPV infection, that’s a pretty damn good preventative measure.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

          But it is me who will be able to tell potential sexual partners that I’ve been vaccinated against HPV.

          If getting laid isn’t a direct benefit, I don’t know what is!

          • Matt Penfold
            Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

            Tell me, did it take a lot of effort to become this ignorant ?

            • Ichthyic
              Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

              If you’re confused about Matt’s response, let me try and translate:

              using “I got my vaccine” as a sticker on your chest to get laid is an indirect benefit, not a direct one.

              it also probably would have a similar effect if you wore a sticker on your shirt that said:

              “I have a condom in my wallet, and I’m not afraid to use it!”

              why don’t you try it and report back your results?

              🙂

            • Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:53 am | Permalink

              I’d say not being a carrier approaches being a “direct” benefit because it means you won’t give it to your significant other, you know, someone you love. Also (although this is rare anyway), your significant other, if she’s female and having your child, and having not received the virus from you, won’t pass it to your child during birth. In my mind, that’s pretty “direct.”

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink

      We offer vasectomy as a birth control option without ethical qualms despite the fact that men don’t get pregnant. What in your view makes HPV vaccination of boys ethically more problematical? In both cases the male undergoes a medical procedure for the benefit of his sexual partner(s).

      • Matt Penfold
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        We do not offer vasectomies to teenaged boys. It is quite dishonest as well as being incredibly stupid to think we do.

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

          I made no claim about offering vasectomies to teenaged boys. I merely pointed out that, using your own definition of “direct benefit”, vasectomy (for adult men) would seem to be a counterexample to this claim of yours:

          There is a general consensus within the medical profession, and within society, that medical treatment should only be offered to those who will gain some direct benefit.

          But apparently you don’t have a rational reply to this point.

          • Matt Penfold
            Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:16 am | Permalink

            The discussion is about the administration of a vaccince to teenages, thus that is the group being discusse. If you did not understand the context that is not my fault.

            So sorry, but you did, given the context, make claims about teenage boys. What is not clear if that is becuase you are stupid, or just failed to understand the context. Either way the failure is yours, not mine.

            Please quit blaming me for your mistakes.

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted September 27, 2011 at 10:37 am | Permalink

              I haven’t blamed you for anything. I asked (politely) for clarification of a point you made, and you responded with insults, and continue to do so. Please do us all a favor and read Da Roolz before posting further.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

          since we’re being all pedantic, 18 is still a teenager, and IIRC, no state in the US has a higher age restriction than that.

          seems reasonable enough, though I would remove the age restriction and simply require parental consent before age 18 myself.

    • sasqwatch
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      This is where the intuitions of doctors and society, in general, fails miserably.

      I’m a “network epidemiologist” — someone who has spent the last 22-odd years focused on the community form of all diseases that hit between the belly button and the knees (both front and back). My close colleagues and I have provided an interface of sorts between public health and the network modeling community that has been trying to figure out disease dynamics in people’s interactions.

      Educating doctors has been really difficult, as they are focused on streams of patients, one-at-a-time. They think much less about risk that is posed TO their patients by the community around them, and this is a shame – and a gaping hole in the way medicine is taught IMHO.

      Seen on a large scale, men and women can be largely conceptualized as infectors and reservoirs. Penes infect, and uteri (cervices, etc.) harbor. Of course, women infect men too, which completes the circle, but run with me here just a bit.

      Women having exclusive sex with other women are generally at high risk for having a good time. The opposite is true for men having sex exclusively with men; they are at highest risk, as a group, for all sexually transmitted infections (STI). If the penis was somehow taken out of the picture, all STI would dry up overnight (or at least by the time the last infected woman was either cured or died).

      Having been in the business of contact-tracing, I’ve seen how very modest efforts, focused on those penises (including the asymptomatic ones) drive down disease prevalence much more effectively than in places where the focus is exclusively on screening programs that target females. The tougher buggers to fight are the viruses, as they tend to accumulate in populations.

      In this sense, a females’ DIRECT risk also has a probability component involving how likely it is that she will come into contact with an infected penis(including rape, or molestation, for example). The cumulative nature of virus prevalence, especially given how population density is rising (and health care literally breaking the bank here in the US), should make it a cost-benefit no-brainer that we quit being so goddamn selfish in the way we conceptualize COMMUNICABLE disease as a single-patient single-risk problem. It is not. It is a community problem.

      I believe any communicable disease fully deserves to be consigned to the dustbin of history. They have absolutely no right to exist. None. This will never happen, esp in the case of viruses, until we give the problem the diplomatic recognition it deserves. If females weren’t affected by HPV in deadly ways, I would be in favor of vaccinating exclusively ALL boys. Then the disease would go away practically overnight. As it is, the quickest way to get rid of this junk is blanket vaccination of both sexes. The women especially because of their cancer risk, and the men because we simply do not have the luxury (time and resources) to fuck around any longer. Solve the goddamn problem already.

      • Kevin
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

        Bravo.

        • Diane G.
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

          Indeed!

      • Marella
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        Indeed. My boys were actually vaccinated before the vaccine was generally available because they were part of a study to see if it worked. I was happy for them to be part of this because it seemed to me that not giving other people a potentially fatal disease was a worthy goal.

      • Bacopa
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

        While I totally agree with you about how doctors need to consider the social context their patients live in , I think you underestimate the possibilities of F-to-F STI transmission. “Tribbing” or “scissoring” is all the rage between younger gay women. Based on what I saw at on the Planned Parenthood vulva/penis worksheets (see my above post) tribbing would totally spread HPV and herpes.

        • sasqwatch
          Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:22 am | Permalink

          This is true. I was engaging in a bit of hyperbole in making that point – which was also being made at a populational, rather than individual level. In the real world, we have “compartmentalization” of sexual networks that serve to isolate disease levels in either high or low prevalence “islands”. Yoosik Youm and Ed Laumann (U Chicago! friend and colleague) have postulated what seems to be a good mechanism that describes why STI rates are so high among African Americans – and that is that partner selection heavily favors other African Americans (who have had historically high prevalence in their communities). All kinds of other factors come into play of course, but the general sexual network picture one gets explains observed differences in prevalence without invoking differences in behavior at the personal level not seen in the data.

          For a purely hypothetical women-having-sex-with-women (WSW) population, the HPV/HSV has to come from somewhere — so everybody needs to be engaged in scissoring and partner exchange to yield any appreciable community risk for those diseases. Of course, we don’t have completely exclusive WSW communities on the population level, we have some levels of bisexuality among predominantly WSW. Ditto for the existence of bisexuality among predominantly MSM. At the birds-eye level in my experience (having worked in and managed data in public clinic situations for decades), we see next-to-no representation by WSW, and vast overrepresentation by MSM. I would maintain it’s a consequence of the physical reality of skin contact that involves a penis (how that relates to individual transmission probabilities) plus partner selection and exchange factors translating to the populational level.

          The thing we don’t have a good intuitive grasp on is how community prevalence translates to personal risk. Modeling network dynamics over time is a huge challenge mathematically, based on a dearth of data. Recent work, though, suggests such networks have “small world” character (networks with hubs and trees), consistent with the old “core group” models of Hethcote and Yorke – that seem to result in very small numbers of people in the core that maintain high levels of endemicity in the population. It’s like, to kill this stuff off once and for all, you HAVE to go really gonzo on the problem, shooting at the base of the flames (core), but doing a good job on the periphery as well (before another core gets ignited somewhere else). Blanket vaccination of both sexes would accomplish precisely that.

        • sasqwatch
          Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:40 am | Permalink

          I just realized I essentially re-stated this paper, from close colleagues.

          http://jid.oxfordjournals.org/content/174/Supplement_2/S144.short

    • sasqwatch
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

      To BRIEFLY continue with the seat belt analogy:

      A choice to wear your seat belt is NOT merely a personal choice. A minor mishap without a seatbelt can end up hurting others that share the highway because of loss of control (that can become a chain reaction of sorts on crowded highways especially). The analogy holds for communicable disease, IMHO.

      If one is completely alone on the highway (the unlikely sexual equivalent of only having sex with Rosie Palm and her five sisters for your entire life), being infected carries a risk that extends to others – and in a chain reaction, to boot.

      • sasqwatch
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        whoops – only if one is NOT alone on the highway (highly likely) is there risk to others. Damn – almost got it right the first time. I hope I’ve made the point, anyway.

    • eric
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      I’m a male, and I see a direct benefit in not having to pay for other people’s multi-million dollar cancer treatments when a few-dollar poke will do.

      This is a no-brainer: every time we eliminate a debilitating illness from the general population, health costs for all of us (NOT just the ones suffering from it) go down.

      • Matt Penfold
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        I give up.

        It seems a number of people here are intent on being willfully ignorant.

        • Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, like the guy who ignores the commenters who use facts to show that he’s wrong, and instead ladles out insults to everyone else!

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

            Matt’s not “wrong”, he wants to use the narrow definition of “direct benefit” in this case, instead of the broader one the rest of the commenters are using.

            I don’t agree that the narrow definition is the one that should be applied, myself, but I’m guessing that’s what he’s really on about.

            belaboring a moot point though, really.

            • sasqwatch
              Posted September 27, 2011 at 5:27 am | Permalink

              I realized this is what Matt was doing as well, but only after posting a rather lengthy comment. He’s seeing direct risk as that associated with one’s personal behavior (no sex = no risk; having sex = direct risk – assuming zero non-sexual transmission).

              I’ve been working with assessing personal risk for so long, that it’s impossible for me to distinguish direct/indirect as Matt has framed it. Rather, there’s always some direct risk (unless one is a lifelong celibate who also never shares anyone’s towels) – and this direct risk ALSO has a community component. (in fact, the community component is the major determining factor, as it turns out)

              Just TRY to acquire gonorrhea in Sweden sometime. It’s next-to-impossible, thanks to one of the longest standing and best STD programs in the world. To me, the “direct” risk for gonorrhea to the individual there is extremely low, as the community component of that risk has been effectively removed.

        • sasqwatch
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

          In short, I don’t respect that first bit of argumentation that only accepts vaccination on the basis of so-called direct harm. One is an appeal to inappropriate authority (yes, I’m asserting that many doctors are inappropriate authorities in this matter, based on hard experience — at least where it concerns public health matters, named reporting of communicable diseases, etc. Many need educating on these matters – by… you guessed it, public health officers). The other (“societal reasons”) is a dressed-up argumentum ad populum.

          There. Is that sufficiently Pharynguloid for your tastes?

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

            ah, “pharynguloid” has come to mean something much different than it would have when I was taking developmental biology.

            I suppose we have PZ to thank for that.

            • sasqwatch
              Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:26 am | Permalink

              🙂

  13. Jamie
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    The anti-vaxers are clearly nuts. But their nuttiness doesn’t automatically make mandatory vaccination for every vaccine developed sensible nor every argument for vaccines rational.

    One poster here said, “listen to your doctor.” My daughter’s physician sent a note when the vaccine first became available suggesting she have it. It was going to cost us something like $100 (for us, that’s a lot of money). I asked him why he thought it was a good idea and he started in on a long speech about the eradication of polio. I asked him what the chances were that my daughter would become infected. He didn’t know. I asked him what the chances were that if she were infected she would contract cervical cancer. He didn’t know. So I told him I would have to think about it (if my daughter ever indicates a desire to have it, I will, of course, allow her to make the decision). She is not yet sexually active and I may still decide to have her vaccinated, but when I did my own research, I did not find the numbers very convincing.

    As I recall, it worked out to something on the order of 0.17% of the cases of cervical cancer might be avoided. At the time, I also seem to recall, the vaccine was targeted to only one or a very few strains of the virus, leaving many strains untouched, including the most virulent. The situation may have changed since then, and I probably ought to do the research again… but it is not high on my list of priorities.

    Now some people, because of this, want to lump me in with the anti-vaxers. Merely raising any questions at all about vaccinations can get one tarred and feathered by zealous pro-vaxers. Some people like to treat doctors as gods who can do no wrong and make no mistakes and have no conflicting interests.

    It is not rational to be swayed by fantasy fears of medical harms that simply do not exist. But neither is it rational to adopt a non-thinking acceptance of whatever is pushed through the medical pipeline. In my experience, few people are willing to engage in a rational discussion of the costs and benefits of a particular vaccine.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:13 am | Permalink

      It sucks that your doctor didn’t have those facts and wasn’t willing to look them up for you.

      The chance of your daughter contracting the virus is around 50%. The chance of her developing cervical cancer from the virus is, as you discovered, quite a bit lower.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        don’t forget there are issues with both sexes, not just female.

        it’s just that in females, ALL instances of cervical cancer have been tracked to HPV.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:52 am | Permalink

          It is not rational to be swayed by fantasy fears of medical harms that simply do not exist.

          you mean, like side effects from the vaccine?

          • Jamie
            Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:44 am | Permalink

            No, I mean like undocumented claims of catastrophic effects of the vacine. If side effects are well documented, they ought to be taken into consideration as one factor among many. Their relative frequency and severity are both worth considering. But they would have to be well documented in proper clinical trials. Otherwise you are considering vaporous ‘facts.’

            • Ichthyic
              Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

              well, to be clear, I was really meaning that the side effects were a fantasy.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      I asked him what the chances were that my daughter would become infected. He didn’t know

      as they say..

      “Cool story, bro.”

      seriously, anecdotes /= evidence.

      the research is sound, even if your doctor appears just as ignorant as yourself about it.

      by the way, if you had looked a bit closer, ALL cases of cervical cancer are directly traceable to HPV.

      ALL OF THEM.

      • Marella
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        If anecdotes are of interest, the daughter of a friend of mine has been rendered childless by HPV. She had to have most of her cervix removed as a result of infection and now she cannot carry a fetus to term. She won’t show up in the cancer figures but she’s a victim nonetheless.

        • Ichthyic
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

          She won’t show up in the cancer figures but she’s a victim nonetheless.

          I had a roommate that had the same thing happen to her.

          terrible.

          I hope your friend’s daughter has lots of support. It is not only a physically scaring trauma, but an emotional and psychological one too.

  14. Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Colbert did a wonderful piece on this.

    As for whether it should be mandatory or not… I’ve thought about it, and I can’t really see why it shouldn’t be. Immunizing everybody seems to benefit everybody, one way or another.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      yup.

      • Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        “Bachmann is strongly pro-choice – at least when that choice is cervical cancer.”

        Or, I would add, smallpox. Or any other vaccination governments have made compulsory (to the great benefit of their citizens).

        • truthspeaker
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

          Shorter Bachmann: Government shouldn’t be able to force you to have a vaccine, but it should be able to prevent you from having an abortion.

  15. KP
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    One other argument I’ve heard on this is that only a small fraction of HPV infections result in cancer. However, shouldn’t we MORALLY be willing to take measures to reduce the risk of cancer, even if the risk is already small?

    • Kevin
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      That’s true. Most HPV infections are silent.

      Some HPV infections result in genital warts.

      Some HPV infections result in cancer.

      Problem is, we have no way of knowing which person will have an inconsequential infection and which will have a deadly cancer. Aside from the fact that the four variants of HPV in the vaccine are most associated with cancer. (Even then, those variants don’t always cause cancer.)

      HPV is also damned prevalent. It’s by far the most prevalent sexually transmitted virus in the world — about half of all of our fellow citizens have HPV. Herpes is second, at about 25% (no kidding).

      So, hugely prevalent, occasionally deadly, preventable. What’s the decision? If it weren’t for the “transmitted via sex” notation, it would be an absolute no-brainer.

      What is it about sex that turns normally bright, thinking people into blithering idiots? … wait, don’t answer that.

      • KP
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        I’m gonna answer it anyway: Religion

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      One other argument I’ve heard on this is that only a small fraction of HPV infections result in cancer.

      it depends on the strain of HPV, really.

      that said:

      Persistent HPV infections are now recognized as the cause of essentially all cervical cancers, as well as most cases of anal cancer. In 2011, more than 12,000 women in the United States are expected to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than 4,000 are expected to die from it (2). Cervical cancer is diagnosed in nearly half a million women each year worldwide, claiming a quarter of a million lives annually.

      http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/HPV

      so yeah, if we estimate at least 30% penetration for the strains that actually cause cervical cancer (reasonable, given that there probably is over 80% infection rate for all strains of HPV), then 12K cases per year sounds like fairly low odds.

      OTOH, how many cancers do you know about where we have tracked 100% of all instances to basically one cause, namely HPV?

      and 70% of those are directly traceable to only 2 strains of HPV.

      it’s really a no brainer.

      even a .001% risk of cervical cancer would be worth getting this vaccination, as getting it (and keeping up with it) virtually guarantees you will NOT get cervical cancer.

      I really can’t think of ANY other thing, so easy to obtain with so little chance of side effect, that basically is guaranteed to prevent one cause of potential death.

      The risk of anal cancer from the same strains of HPV in men is less than half that of cervical cancer in women.

      but you’ll find me first in fucking line to get the vaccination as soon as it becomes available for men here in NZ. Unfortunately, Gardasil has not been fully approved for use in both sexes yet; likely there will be some other product that ends up on the market for men.

    • Microraptor
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      Heh, especially when a lot of anti-science folks complain about how we haven’t “cured cancer.”

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

        yeah, now that you mention it, isn’t this really the first case where we can really say we indeed have “eradicated cancer”?

        we can’t technically say this is a cure, since it is really a prevention instead, but like with smallpox, we might eventually be able to say we eradicated at least this one cause of cancer.

        that ain’t beans.

        • Microraptor
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

          Quite honestly, I think prevention is better than curing anyway.

          After having a kidney stone removed a couple weeks ago, I’d certainly rather prevent myself from getting another one than have to be “cured” again, ouch!

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

            I can commiserate.

            had liver surgery for extremely clogged bile ducts… twice… last year. 2 times in the emergency room with pain so extreme even morphine was barely touching it. I had to get some kind of pain-killer cocktail to calm it down a bit.

            That, combined with 3 months of jaundice and maybe one or two good nights of sleep over that same 3 months is no way to spend a summer vacation.

            ugh.

            like most kidney stones, though, I can only wish there were some way to reliably prevent it.

            none of the GPs, internal med guys, or surgeons had much to say about preventing another instance.

            I bet you get the same response?

            • Ichthyic
              Posted September 26, 2011 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

              wouldn’t it be just too funny if things like kidney stones turned out to be related to a viral infection like HPV?

              hmm, on second thought, maybe not so humorous…

            • Microraptor
              Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

              My advice was to avoid cola beverages (something I never drink anyway) and nuts (something I’m trying to cut back on anyway because I’m trying to lose weight) and drink more water, with the increased water intake being given as the number one best thing I could do for myself. So overall, I’d say that no, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of ways to prevent them.

  16. Ichthyic
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    I see a lot of confusion and misinformation in this thread.

    seriously, I can’t figure out why an important issue like this doesn’t warrant a five minute check of the CDC for relevant information?

    HERE:

    http://www.cdc.gov/std/hpv/default.htm

    • sasqwatch
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

      Note that there is also a non-sexual transmission risk (so far of only non-cancer-causing varieties). Also note that knowledge is not perfect, and it may be borne out in the future that non-sexual transmission routes are likelier than once thought.

      Given the high prevalence of HPV, I wouldn’t consider this to be too remote a possibility (even though the bench science is not there). The epidemiological picture seems to indicate significant non-sexual transmission. There are still a lot of unknowns here. Why not err on the side of caution? It’s not too expensive to do so. It’s too expensive not to do so. That’s my bit.

      • sasqwatch
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

        To clarify, I make this point not because I care about the sex/non-sex distinction, but merely because it pulls the rug out from under those that think this distinction is relevant to the argument. It is not.

        The only thing relevant to the argument IMO, is that we’re talking about communicable diseases.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

        Why not err on the side of caution?

        because that would be the road to political suicide?

        really, I haven’t a clue why, but it does seem to be that the old adage “an ounce of prevention…” has never been given anything but lip service in the larger scheme of things.

        I guess we all like to live dangerously and pretend that’s freedom?

        • sasqwatch
          Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

          Yep. It is instructive to note that our local health department (formerly one of the best in the country) is now a nameless, faceless non-entity staffed by humorless and incompetent bureaucrats. Once the top layer of admin got taken over by religious types (this is Colorado Springs), the first programs to go were “Adult Health Services” — the Drug Clinic first, then the STD/HIV Programs second. We can’t be coddling miscreants on the public dime, don’t you know.

          Penny-wise, pound foolish, as always. That should be the right-wing’s motto. Oh well. The fort was held for 30 years. Disease in this HEAVILY MILITARY town was a tenth of national levels for a very long time. Now, unfortunately, we’ll pay the piper with increased (unpaid) ER visits, other cases of preventable and incurable diseases, increased crime, etc. Our collective choice, I suppose.

          Health Canada, here I come. They like me up there. (so I suppose brain drain is another argument against losing support for communicable disease control. Other, more civilized places in the world practice it.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

            Penny-wise, pound foolish, as always. That should be the right-wing’s motto.

            one of them, anyway.

            another might be:

            “Don’t tell the truth when a good lie will do instead.”

            and:

            “If I’m doing well, that means you must be too”

            (the perversion of supply side economics embraced by the neocons).

            • Ichthyic
              Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

              Health Canada, here I come

              I have both good and bad things to say about socialized medicine as I have experienced it here in NZ.

              what I have definitely concluded, however, is that both on paper and in practice, it not only makes more sense, but is FAR FAR cheaper.

              yes, you heard me.

              cheaper.

              medical products cost WAY less here than they do in the states, because the insane middle men markups are cut out.

              • sasqwatch
                Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:33 am | Permalink

                Yep. I’m not overly starry-eyed about socialized medicine (Canadian system or otherwise), but it is also plain to see how there’s a MONSTROUS cost associated with insurance companies, their claims adjusters, and the people that battle them in the hospitals and private clinics. I’d put most of these people out of work in a heartbeat, and medical personnel would find themselves practicing medicine again, and insurance companies would find themselves insuring low-probability events again (rather than inevitable ones).

    • Thinkative
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

      What I find amusing is seeing two equally misinformed commenters arguing with each other.

      Thanks for the CDC link. As a minimum, people should start there before spouting their opinions

  17. Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    This seems driven by pop genetics denialism.

  18. Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Bachmann seriously thinks that the children of the Christian right will all wait until marriage to have sex. They’ll all be virgins, so there’s no risk of HPV… to them.

    I’m rather outraged that her comments immediately after the debate have not been taken to task.

    I quote them here http://ladyatheist.blogspot.com/2011/09/christianity-and-gullibility-go.html

    “Yes, of course it violates liberty, when you have innocent little 12-year-old girls that are being forced to have a government injection into their body. This is a liberty interest that violates the most deepest personal part of a little child. And it violates the parental rights, because what we understand is, again, this was an executive order that mandated that every little 12-year- old girl had to have this vaccination. And then you’d have to opt out.

    …The problem is, again, a little girl doesn’t get a do over. Once they have that vaccination in their body, once it causes its damage, that little girl doesn’t have a chance to go back. So you can’t just say you’re sorry.”

    The rhetoric makes it sound like rape, not a medical issue. I think that’s even more reprehensible than quoting random people in a crowd.

    • Marella
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      forced to have a government injection

      Well no wonder she’s worried, she thinks these girls are getting an injection of government. They may all turn into politicians!

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

      “…The problem is, again, a little girl doesn’t get a do over. Once they have that vaccination HPV in their body, once it causes its damage, that little girl doesn’t have a chance to go back. So you can’t just say you’re sorry.”

      fixed.

      and exactly how I would be feeling if I denied my own child a vaccination and she then had complications from an HPV infection.

      people like Palin can’t see past their own noses.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        wow, that was a fail on using a strike tag, and how.

        weird.

        trying again:

        “…The problem is, again, a little girl doesn’t get a do over. Once they have that vaccination HPV in their body, once it causes its damage, that little girl doesn’t have a chance to go back. So you can’t just say you’re sorry.”

  19. Stonyground
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    When this vaccine was introduced in the UK there were the usual objections from one corner of the Christian lobby. For the vaccine to be fully effective it has to be administered before girls become sexually active, thus it was deemed sensible to give girls the jab at twelve years old. The twelve years old thing was what really got these feeble brained idiots worked up. In their sex obsessed fantasy world every twelve year old who got the jab would instantly rip her knickers off and screw the first male that she saw. Fortunately in the UK these people’s crass opinions are generally ignored.

    • eric
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

      What is really ridiculous about this objection is that we just learned about this virus’ effect in 1976. Are they afraid we’ll go back to the sexual promiscuity of…when exactly? The 30s? 40s? 50s? 60s? 70s? 1870s? 1670s? ALL of those generations thought they were HPV-free. 🙂 Seems clear that being HPV-free is about as important an impact on sexual behavior as a butterfly on a cannonball.

  20. vel
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    First, does the vaccine work when you get lit after you get the virus? If not, then no opting out. This doesn’t hurt and it only helps. Someone’s freedom to be an idiot stops when they affect me and in refusing this they very well may.

  21. Nancy
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    “Legislation to make HPV vaccine mandatory has undermined public confidence and created a backlash among parents. There is nothing more important to the success of public health policies than to ensure community acceptability. In the absence of an immediate risk of serious harm, it is preferable to adopt voluntary measures, making state compulsion a last resort.”

    (JAMA – Journal of the AMA)

    • sasqwatch
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      See what I wrote above about the problems with doctor’s attitudes – and my extensive experience with them. Then consider the source: JAMA.

      Try STD, STI, or Int J STD & AIDS, or even AJPH (though their quality has gone way downhill of late). Unless, of course, you rather be willfully obtuse about the community argument.

      • sasqwatch
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

        Or better yet, consider the argument itself, and argue against it on its own merits or demerits as you see them. I’m not impressed by white coats, to tell you the truth.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      In the absence of an immediate risk of serious harm

      that’s a bunch of old white guys telling you that they don’t give a rat’s ass if your daughter gets cervical cancer, since they won’t get it until later, and it isn’t always fatal, especially if you get a historectomy.

      You willing to play the idealist for that?

      I bet not.

  22. ronald e. shields
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I take your point…reasons I don’t agree with but reasons nonetheless.

  23. Tim
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    Of all the crazy shit connected to this issue, the idea that the HPV vaccine “will give young girls a license to have sex” is the dumbest of them all. How many horny teenagers will make their decision to have or not have sex based on their having had a vaccination? How many 12-year olds, after having a doctor’s check-up and getting a shot, will think even a week later about what the shot was for?

    • Tim
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      I mean, seriously, have any of these morons ever actually had a 12-year old daughter?

  24. Posted September 26, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    We gave our daughter no option. She got the vaccine and that was that.

    And, amazingly, she hasn’t turned into a trollop. In fact, she’s still a bit prudish and reserved when it comes to boys.

    Something, I hope, will wear off in a few more years.

  25. George
    Posted September 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Glad you added that young men should also be immunized for HPV. It is just plain irresponsible not to take all measures to help ensure the safety of others as well as yourself.

    • Microraptor
      Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

      All this talk has reminded me that my school’s health clinic offers the vaccine free to all students. I’m planning to go in tomorrow and see how soon I can get it.

      • Ichthyic
        Posted September 26, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

        Harumble!

        🙂

  26. Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    Despite being a raging liberal on basically every possible issue, I do have “a libertarian bone in my body”, so to speak (I think it’s my left shin…), and that makes me uncomfortable with absolute mandates. I don’t know about the Texas executive mandate, but I’m assuming it is not so much “mandatory” as it is a condition of entering public school? If so, I find that to be a narrow enough exception to both satisfy the pressing need to get everybody vaxed, as well address my concerns about overarching government power. If somebody is really serious about opting out, they can — but not without giving something up.

    Note that even the current approach, calling it mandatory but providing a no-strings-attached opt-out, still means a heckuva lot more people will get it. I’m not saying that’s “good enough”, but it’s not quite correct to say that totally defeats the point of making it “mandatory”. It partially undermines it, but it still ought to have a strong effect.

  27. Posted September 28, 2011 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    As I always have to tell Phil Plait over on his blog, when libertarianism and science conflict, science wins, every time. Mandatory vaccinations, no exceptions except those authorised by a physician who routinely does vaccinations, and of course only for objective medical reasons.


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