Thursday, January 25, 2007

Legislating Awareness Revisited

Well, as more areas consider requiring or strongly suggesting the HPV vaccine for school-aged girls, there is more discussion. CUUMBAYA feels this would be a positive step for the Indiana legislature. I have nothing against the vaccine amd do think getting it is a great idea, but still wonder about whether the government should be in this. After all, HPV is primarily spread through sexual contact, so un-vaccinated children do not pose an immediate health threat to their classmates or teachers. And of course, the vaccine only prevents some kinds of HPV. Again, that is better than nothing and I do feel this is a huge advance and I think girl people 9-26 (the approved ages for now) should get it, but I don't see why it should be required.
Of course, some are saying - or so I hear - that the only reason people in DC are suggesting it is because they believe that back girls are slutty. While I certainly have no access to the internal thoughts of the DC councilmembers, I think wishing for better health, even sexual health, does not require a racial element. Certainly there are more black children in DC public schools than non-black children. But the high cervical cancer rates in DC would seem enough to prompt consideration of any and all prevention measures. Perhaps I missed it - but are the anti-smoking rules because more black people smoke? Are all regulations suggested for DC based solely on the racial makeup of the city? I'm not naive, and I understand that DC is the Chocolate City and certainly there are choices that will be made for DC with the understanding of it's racial makeup.
But suggesting that getting a vaccine to prevent against a sexually transmitted virus is based on a racially based concern of promiscuity is, well, nuts. First, the reason the vaccine is administered at a young age is because, as with most vaccines, it doesn't really work if you are already infected. Since something like 75% of the population gets HPV this is not a statement about promiscuity, this is a recognition that at some point in their lives, even if it's after they graduate, these children will probably have sex.