October 10, 2008

I have been getting more and more disturbed by the actions of our medical community when they are faced with STI’s like HPV.

I am amazed that the vaccine for HPV, Gardasil, has not been formulated for use on the male population. Why is it that only the female population is to be vaccinated? Is it because males are not faced with the same potential for cancers caused by HPV, or is it because there is virtually NO active testing done on males to aid in the prevention of this particular STI?

I’m wondering what the logic is in creating an STI vaccine that is gender specific. As I understand the matters of sex…it takes two people to transmit an infection or disease. It does not matter if they are same sex or not…it only matters that one person is infected with something and they run the risk of spreading it.

At some point or another, all sexually active people have had unprotected sex. What I find very frightening is that there is virtually no way to screen for HPV. More to the point, the usual testing done by responsible, sexually active people is rendered incomplete when dealing with HPV. So…why not ensure you have a vaccine for all the people that can contract HPV?

Usually, the presence of HPV is discovered by a PAP test or by the eruption of genital warts. Sounds like fun! Having been on the receiving end of a PAP test, I can say while uncomfortable and occasionally painful, it is far less invasive than the alternative…which in this case, is cancer.

Hang on to your hats, I’m about to get sarcastic.

Yes indeed, boys and girls, HPV can cause cancer. Recently a woman in the US was diagnosed with throat cancer owing to an HPV infection…I wonder how she got that? It is more than likely she got it from a guy who is infected, and gosh darn it, there is no vaccine for guys. Gals, just line up…from ages 9 to 13 is the optimum time to get shot up so you don’t get messed up by a pesky virus. If your parents are worried about how they will look because you get the vaccine, don’t panic…you can still get another vaccination that is designed for gals 14-26. Guess what guys, you are off the hook, and rightly so! Since most of you randy, cheeky, young lads don’t want to use a condom because it just doesn’t feel the same, please cover up your testes when those unsightly warts show up.

Am I angry? You had better believe it.

Am I going to have my nine year old daughter get this shot…not at this point. When my daughter reaches 13, we’ll discuss it. This will be her choice, and her choice alone. We have had very serious talks about sex, and we choose not skirt the issue. When she asked me why I was so upset about the vaccine, I told her that I wasn’t upset by the vaccine…but I was upset by the limitations. I’m sure I could turn this into a whole feminist rant, but, I won’t. My husband and I are not going to shy away from discussing the risks associated with sex. We certainly don’t care what people think if our daughter decides to get this vaccine. Frankly…she is a miracle that we never thought we’d experience, and we’d like to keep her as healthy as possible for as long as possible. To the parents out there who believe their teenager is not having sex or engaging in some sort of sexual activity…wake up! Talk to your child. I don’t care how uncomfortable you might be, this is your job…do it.

The facts are pretty clear. There is no way to test for HPV. The infection is indiscriminate, it does not care if you are male or female…equal opportunity infection. Finally, it can cause cancer. The best way to avoid sexually transmitted infections and diseases is to be informed.

Do us all a favour and read up.


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