Let’s Talk About Gardasil

I’m not sold on the vaccine. If you’ve competed or judged on the collegiate speech circuit over the past several years, you know that there are some concerns over its efficacy and costs.  Those, in my mind, are rational points of contention.

What is not a rational point of contention is the continuous blasting of Gardasil mandates as prescribed STD prevention. Juxtapose this rhetoric with the age range in which it is often administered (think pre-teen girls), and you’ve got a recipe for misplaced indignant rage. This post does a good job of summarizing all the awful arguments being made. The pundits’ bottom line? Mandating Gardasil vaccinations gives young girls permission (and encouragement) to be dirty, dirty sluts.

There are a couple of problems here. Outside of how ridiculous, on face, that belief is, let’s take it further.

#1- HPV can be transmitted sexually, but that is not always the case. And guess what? Odds are you’ve had it at some point in your life.

Condoms do not prevent the spread of HPV, because condoms only stop semen, and HPV 16 and 18 are not typical STDs. HPV 16 is passed by skin to skin contact, not through semen, so kissing, sharing spoons, breastfeeding, playing sports will all pass it on.

The bottom line is that papillomavirus is everywhere. Some studies show that 90% of all adults have or have had the virus. It’s like the flu, and most of the time we fight it off without realising we ever had it.

#2- STDs are extra low on the list of concerns for sexually active teens.

Even so, only 7% of teenage girls in a national survey cited not wanting to get an STI as their reason for not having sex (Abma et al. as cited in Saslow et al., 2007). A study on college age women also shows that girls are mostly unfamiliar with HPV (Winer et al., 2003). Existing studies on the availability of contraception, condoms, and emergency contraception have not shown an increase in sexual activity (Saslow et al., 2007), suggesting that the HPV vaccine will not promote sexual activity.

I’ve heard a lot of chatter questioning where common sense went in politics. With continuous babble like what we hear from Bachmann and far too many other Tea Party clowns, I have no idea.



  1. Hey Lauren,

    Do you know of the reasons why there are concerns over the efficacy/costs of Gardasil? I guess I missed that persuasion round, because I remember it being a topic, but that’s it. This came up in a conversation I was having a few days ago, and I was trying to recall it.

    That said, it is pretty ridiculous that a) Perry tried to mandate this and b) that the Right still thinks prevention, of any form, is akin to peddling and priming their sons and daughters for sex. Too bad we’ll probably hear even more about it as the race picks up.


    1. Hey Matt,

      This article summarizes it pretty well: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsr1003547

      The general idea is that it’s too new to know how well it works, it’s very expensive (compared to other vaccines), it can be very painful, etc. Then there is the liberty side of the argument- the Federal gov shouldn’t be telling us how to treat our bodies. Carrie Guggenmos had a persuasion on it at one point, I believe.

      That being said, a) Perry looked silly tonight, and b) the Right continues to scare me. Romney and Paul might have an iota of sanity, but Paul is dead in the water and I seriously doubt the judgment of American conservatives to select a person with an ounce of common sense, so it would not surprise me to see them decide on Herman Cain or some such malarkey.

      Love ya!

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