March 1, 2007
how to make my head pop off
Although irritating, I'm not talking about Lost having moved to 10 o'clock or people constantly telling me I'd be a great mom. I'm talking about this.

Not the fine reporting of a fellow DC Web site, mind you, but the ridiculous tendency for people to make proclamations about things not fully researched or explored. And to manipulate data to fit their view. And to speak without thinking things through.

Let's get something on the table: I am not advocating mass vaccinations; as a researcher I'm the first to say that we are not yet to that point. Instead, it's a change in attitude I'm advocating.

Your children are having sex.
And your children can get some bad things having sex.
Your female children can actually get cancer and die.
And although no one has been reporting this aspect of it, HPV can also cause your daughters to develop other painful complications that require extensive medical attention.

Wake up.

If HPV caused testicular cancer or resulted in the necessity for men to have invasive procedures such as this one, would we even be having this conversation?

Soapbox out.



Blogger Eileen Dover said...

As someone who has been diagnosed with HPV and dysplasia, it saddens me there really isn't more knowledge about HPV broadcast in the world.

If I'm dating someone and inform them ahead of time, 'BTW, I have HPV', the first assumption they have after searching for it on Google is that I have some odd strain of genital herpes.

I don't wish colposcopies or biopsies on any female.

I acquired HPV from unprotected sex in what I thought was a monogamous relationship, only to learn later, he wasn't so monogamous.

I was lucky it was only HPV, but honestly, can't begin to describe the personal embarrassment, the financial consequences from diagnosis to treatment, and the physical effects of treatment involving cryotherapy to rid my body of the disease.

Not fun.

Anonymous Jorge said...

I wonder, sometimes, what "Information Age" actually means.

Blogger wallofdenial said...

And it is your understanding of this situation, that would in fact make you as great Mom!!

Blogger Fraulein N said...
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you rearrange the letters in "fundamentalist christian", you get "Truth? Fact is, man's in denial."

Blogger Kate said...

Amen, sister.

HPV has been so much fun for me. High grade lesions, 4 colposcopies, a partially unanaesthetized LEEP, and an insurance rejection letter later, I would highly recommend that every woman experience.

Um, yeah. Not so much.

The idea that a parent wouldn't want to spare their child from reproductive health risks just boggles my mind.

Blogger Gwen said...

Hey, Kris? You would make a great mom (and I love that Lost is now at 9 my time)!

My daughters are soooo young, I haven't thought too much about the HPV vaccine for them because although I know they will have sex and probably before I am ready for them to (because EVER is kind of too soon), I am kind of like a fundamentalist christian. At least with the denial part.

I know a mother who has HPV and who is desperate for her teenage daughter to get the vaccine and I know a mother who is questioning the role of the drug companies in all of this. I'm optimistically hoping it gets worked out by the time I get there.

Blogger Matt said...

Whoever said the threat of disease should enforce moral codes?

Blogger amyella said...
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't we already require kids to get vaccinated for measels, mumps, tetanus, etc.? Why is it really a big deal to add one more to the list? It doesn't mean you have to start letting your kids stay out all night and run wild, any more than a tetanus shot means you'll start letting them poke themselves with rusty nails.

To the parents who object, I feel like saying "your daughter may be a perfect little angel who won't have sex until she's married...but you never know where her future husband has been."

Blogger Sizzle said...

i find it hard to believe that the adults/parents weren't sexually active as a pre/teen. in this day and age, the pressures to be sexual have significantly increased. why do people pretend it's not happening? or think that if we talk about it, it will happen more?

i have NEVER understood this mentality. NEVER.

Anonymous Jurgen Nation said...

The drug companies are all behind this!!! This is what they want us to believe, that our girls NEED this! They just want to take vacations on their yachts and chuckle at our naivety!

Uh. No matter what the labs want to take home in their paychecks, they don't have such a stronghold on the entire world so as to be "behind" anything. It helps. Who gives a shit who is "behind" this. I don't care what they do with any revenue they make. It helps, it works, it's for our benefit, so people need to just shut the fuck up already and stop making such a big deal out of fucking nothing. I got a meningitis vaccine when I was in college because of an outbreak on campus. I didn't come out of the clinic kissing any boy I could find just because I COULD and I wouldn't get sick. People are ridiculous if they think that a vaccination is going to make their kids feel like they can have sex. Asshats. And I hope that when little Tiffany comes home crying because some boy lied to her and said she was the only one she bitch slaps her naive, selfish parents. Casual sex might not be what you want for your children, but shit happens. I'd rather my child not die because I was too much of an asshole to get her a shot that could help her fight a preventable form of cancer.

Smart parenting.

Blogger Maya said...

Denial ain't just a river in Egypt, no? WORD UP, Kris! PS. Also hate items one and two (lost at 10, those 'you'd be such a GOOD MOM!" comments) - but not as much as this crap. I'm also firmly behind doing some sort of drive to mail a bunch of vibrators/etc to Alabama. Ignorance!

Blogger candace said...

If this vaccine is still all it promises to be when my daughter hits the target age (and I have no reason to think it won't be), she'll get it. She'll also have been getting, for her entire life, talks about sex and responsibility. I know that for me, knowledge was power and the knowledge I had kept me from having sex until I got to college. I can give my kids the knowledge and I can keep my daughter safe from HPV. You're damned right that I'll do it.

Blogger whiskeymarie said...

You would think/hope that in 2007, this would be a no-brainer.
Get vaccine = less deadly cancer.
I just read an article today that said that the actual rates of HPV infection are actually HIGHER than stated previously. Holy shit. It saddens me that a medical issue such as this, because it is related to vaginas, penises & sex- it of course gets the fundamentalists in a tizzy. I think I dodged the HPV bullet, but have friends who didn't.
I wish we had this in the 80's. My mom would have had me get it, that much I know. She knew what we all know- teenagers/young adults have sex, and sometimes don't use condoms (and sometimes condoms don't make a difference anyways). How is this a surprise to anyone?

Blogger mysterygirl! said...

Perhaps I don't understand correctly, but it was my understanding that there are plenty of "outs" for parents who don't want their kids to get the vaccine-- so if parents found it immoral, their kids wouldn't have to get it. That sounds good to me, because I don't like the idea forcing people to get non-necessary vaccinations, but I like making them widespread for those who do (and too bad for me I'm TOO OLD to get it :( ).

Anonymous Christine said...

Actually, what I find most odd about this is that HPV *is* associated with penile cancer and also cancer of the (hold on tight)anus...and since both boys and girls tend to have the latter, why is it that it is only recommended for girls?

Oh, and your blog is my fave.

Blogger Wicked H said...

To be fair, the last time the Pharmaceutical Reps stopped by my office to give us the info regarding this vaccine I asked why youg boys were not also a target market. Just who is giving the young girls the virus in the first place? The stunned rep, leaned in and told me that in third world countries all adolescents are receiving the vaccine. (Of course he wanted to make sure this was entirely off the record)

Oh snap!

Blogger jen said...

amen, sister. Julie at the ravin maven wrote a good piece about this today too.


oh, and hey, you are freaking hilarious. your nigerian husband, too.

Blogger Lena said...

This is why I fucking love you girl.

Succinct. And right on the money.

How many medical and scientific advancements are being thwarted because of politics masquerading as religion?

My daughter will be receiving this vaccine and I only wish more parents would wake up to reality.

Blogger JordanBaker said...

You forgot "Even if your children are not having sex now, there is a goodly chance that they will have it someday."

Blogger Alaina said...

just to provide a glimpse of hope, here in australia the government is funding a free HPV vaccine program, starting this year. also, the researcher who developed the vaccine, ian frazer, was named australian of the year in january.

i am hoping that by the time i return home to the u.s. in a few years the thinking will be equally as rational.

(love your blog, by the way).

Blogger Gwen said...

Eek! I hate being disagreeable, except maybe not so much that I won't do it, apparently.

I don't exactly see what the big deal is with questioning something that's being so highly touted. Do the big pharma companies have more than the good of humanity at stake? Absolutely. Is it possible that this vaccine isn't perfect? Of course. I'm not sure dialogue about it is idiotic or unconscionable. It almost seems like not looking closely at the ramifications of the vaccine would be the less desirable act for a parent.

This doesn't mean that parents who choose the opt-out clause are bad parents or completely clueless about the sexual status of their children. There are thoughtful, reasonable parents who choose to split up the MMR vaccine because of the tenuous link to autism. Some parents object to the mercury and aluminum in the vaccines available for children. I'm not saying these parents are right or wrong; it's not my place to make decisions for them. Even though I don't agree with all the fear about vaccines, I do understand where it comes from and I can identify with a concern about the government telling me how to raise and protect my kids (even though, yes, I realize they do it all the time).

I think every parent, or nearly every parent, really has the best interests of his/her child at heart. Just because the way to achieve those interests doesn't necessarily jive with mine doesn't mean that parent is worthy of my scorn and derision.

Knowledge IS power, so where's the harm in asking for it?

Blogger kris said...

I agree with you, Gwen. Knowledge is power and people should be equipped with all facts before moving forward with anything of this magnitude. That is why I'm not advocating mass vaccinations.

When we do have all the data, though, why not, with appropriate opt outs, of course? The masses don't make a peep about measles or mumps vaccinations, and I'm quite sure folks were lined up for polio vaccines not all that long ago. If there was a vaccine for breast or any other cancer, I have a hard time believing people would have this much trouble with the issue.

To me, refusing to allow your child to have the vaccine because you believe it will cause them to have sex, or as a knee-jerk, stubborn reaction at being told what to do by the government, or because you live under a rock and believe your child is not in any danger is *unacceptable.* When a child is in harm's way, we expect the government to step in. When we can prevent any level of abuse or neglect or illness, why not pursue it once we have all the facts?

I should clarify that I was reacting in this post more to the comments at the link to which I referred than to the debate itself. One commenter referred to this as a "small" health issue, and that is the point at which my head began to lift from my shoulders.

I doubt that anyone reading this site would argue that a dialogue is inappropriate. At least I hope they wouldn't. Thanks so much for adding to this one, Gwen. I like a good discussion now and then. ;)

Blogger Gwen said...

Yeah, I didn't read the comments on that article, but I can imagine how they went. And I agree that equating the desire for abstinence with a certainty of it, especially considering the recent research concerning the sexual practices of teenagers, is absurd. Even my sister, who's a fundie, plans on providing her children access to birth control and encouraging them to use it, rather than blindly hoping they'll abstain. To throw in another cliche' (yay! for cliches!), ignorance, when it comes to sex, is NOT bliss.

One of the problems is that this is a public health issue but because it involves (whisper) S-E-X (/whisper), it becomes political. And then all our heads pop off.

You know, the current vaccines are only good for what--4 years? So I hesitate to get my girls vaccinated at 9 because hopefully I'm doing enough right that they're not ho-ing around by then yet (they should at least wait until they're 12). But then if it's mandated, will the un-insured start receiving the vaccine at 9? Because at over $300/pop, that's a lot of money in a country that doesn't have universal healthcare.

Blogger Garrett said...

Baby are you talking bout knockin' some boots?

You drive me wild.

Blogger kris said...

Garrett gets the crickets I've been reserving all day.

And possibly HB's tree frogs.

Blogger supergirlest said...

what kills me about the whole thing is that hpv is mostly spread by men. why aren't THEY the ones being forced to get the vaccines? as with all vaccines, it isn't a hundred percent effective, and you hope you get the right strain of hpv. i have serious questions about the number of vaccinations we give children - and no to the earlier comment, they aren't mandatory like this one could be. in most every state you can opt out. but that's a whole 'nother topic.

it freaks me out to think that anyone could force someone to take a vaccine without any oversight or responsibility on the part of the pharma group making it whatsoever.
recipe for disaster. and i have hpv, have had one surgery and may be facing another...

on another note - thanks for the welcome, kris! and thanks for stopping by my spot!

i'll be back.
just cause i like wine.

Blogger Garrett said...

I just don't understand the whole HPV thing is all. Once I got herpes I stopped paying attention to all that stuff.

It's in remission me.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, sounds like young teens male and female should be getting the vaccination. Will have to ask my doc if it is available in Canada yet. Get my kids vaccinated for it for sure. Tell them it is a flu shot, whatever ;)

Blogger Bridget Jones said...
Blogger Kate said...

Seriously now. The HPV vaccine is definitely something chicks should get. It is a series of vaccinations, though, like Hep C if I'm not mistaken. So totally worth it.

Great post K.

Blogger Bill said...

It would help considerably if they gave it a name that wasn't another bloody acronym. Seriously, when you say cancer, people shit their pants. When you say HPV or any other acronym, their eyes glaze over.

Please excuse the language but everytime I've seen HPV I've had to Google it, and then I go, "Oh, yeah, that." Give it a real name! Something with meaning.

Serious issues, such as this and others that aren't necessarily health related, are diminished by the insistence on giving them names no one can relate to. I think acronyms are used so we can speak about something in "polite society." But the only reason we can speak of it in such a context is because it's been denuded of meaning.

Sorry. That was my soapbox moment.

Blogger Bill said...

Ha! I wrote "please excuse the language" because I was going to rant four-letter style but I went off in a different direction. So can I take a raincheck on that?

Blogger Bill said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mumps and measles aren't spread through promiscuous sex. HPV is. Equating one to the other does not make for a good argument.

Trying to pretend that a vaccine will lessen the complications of living a promiscuous lifestyle is foolishness, especially considering the vaccine only prevents one type of STD. Are you better off avoiding HPV now only to get HIV later as a result of the deviant life you live?

Blogger kris said...

SWEET. LORD. I'm not sure where to start, but I will say that I find it irritating that comments that tend to be inflammatory are left anonymously. You are however, entitled to your opinion, and I consider it a bonus that you didn't refer to HIV as the "gay cancer."

HPV is sexually transmitted, not spread through "promiscuous sex." There's a big difference.

And I might also ask: when did having consensual, adult sex start equating to deviance?

HMMM. That's one to grow on.

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