Vaccine Leaves Boys' Purity Intact. Whew!

Personal Health

The Washington Posthas a story today about the push to get Gardasil, the vaccine that guards against HPV, approved for males aged 9-26. The vaccine was initially designed to inoculate girls against the virus and significantly lower their chances of developing cervical cancer. Recently, studies have shown that Gardasil also protects men from genital warts, and penile, anal, and throat cancer. Inoculating boys against HPV also protects their female sexual partners.

The CDC is currently weighing the costs of approving the vaccine for male use, and there are some concerns that vaccinating boys may not be the best use of funds. Since the effort is spearheaded by Merck, it's hardly surprising that parents and some public officials are wary -- though many health advocates do vouch for the public health benefits of the vaccine for men.

One thing though, that Merck and public health officials haven’t had to worry about, is right-wing outcry. If you remember, a few years ago, abstinence-only advocates launched a campaign to block FDA approval of Gardasil. Their reason for depriving women of the only vaccine known to protect against cancer? That it would send a message to girls that it’s OK to have sex. That girls would get a green light to whore it up and, well, once a girl's a whore, who cares if she gets cancer?

Furthermore, HPV was a powerful weapon in the arsenal of abstinence-only advocates, since some early studies showed that condoms are not as effective against HPV as other STDs. If HPV were to eventually be wiped out by the vaccine, how would ab-only proponents pump up their antiquated ideology with exaggerated stats?

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