Gardasil for Boys?

Thursday, March 26, 2009
As you may or may not be aware, Gardasil is a vaccine that was approved for girls to prevent them from contracting the HPV, which can cause cervical cancer and other undesirable outcomes. Right after its approval, there was the usual brouhaha over whether or not it should be a required vaccination or the decision should be left up to parents. Detractors indicated it sent a message to girls that it was okay to be promiscuous, proponents wanted everyone vaccinated. I won't compromise my Smart Daughter's privacy by telling you what she decided, but in our household, teens get some say in their medical care, and I supported her decision on this issue.

Now it looks like Merck is trying to get the FDA to approve Gardasil for boys, claiming the vaccine lowers their risk not only of transmitting HPV to their sexual partners, but also that it provides some protection against genital warts and precancerous lesions.

The thing I find interesting about this debate is the apparent double standard of those having it. When it was girls who were being vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease, the religious conservatives were all up in arms, claiming that doing so sent a message of promiscuity to the girls in question. But now that the company wants to market the vaccine to boys, the issue suddenly isn't promiscuity, but safety, cost and the cost-benefit analysis.

Now, I don't have the education to determine whether or not the FDA should approve Gardasil for boys from a safety and efficacy perspective. That's why I pay my taxes, so that scientists can help guide me in my decision making process when it comes to health. They hire people like my Hot SIL (an epidemiologist) to determine the risk assessment, and I'll form my opinions based on their findings.

Nor do I think this particular vaccine should be mandatory, since the germs in question aren't exactly "airborne," and I think parents and children should make these decisions together based on each child's needs, lifestyle and age.

But what the fuck is up with the double standard when it comes to sexuality? Aren't we beyond this yet?

How come a girl's virtue is more important than a boy's? And how come a vaccination against a sexually transmitted disease requires a value judgment on the gender of the person being immunized?

Sometimes the culture wars really piss me the hell off.

11 comments:

neurondoc said...

You beat me. I was planning on posting basically the same thing tomorrow. I am completely annoyed by the double standard.

Janiece Murphy said...

Doc, I find I'm unsurprised at your reaction.

Hehe.

Nathan said...

I can't really think about the double standard since I can't get past the original argument in the first place. The drug was shown to be most effective when administered before or during puberty. Once that boat sails, there's no going back.

How the hell is getting another inoculation for your child going to promote promiscuity? And since HPV usually shows no symptoms, how are you supposed to guarantee that your lovely little "virgin when married at age 23" isn't going to contract it from that brand new hubby of hers?

Sorry, I just could never wrap my head around the idea that some parents would refuse this vaccine based on it somehow giving permission to their little dear to sleep with every kid in school. I don't get the correlation.

Janiece Murphy said...

Nathan, I don't get it either. It's like saying my inoculations against cholera and the plague before I went overseas condones rats and poor sanitation.

Ur doing it Rong.

Jim Wright said...

Hypocrisy from the Religious Right? Double Standards? Ignorance? And a complete inability to deal with reality when it comes sex? (Sex is Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! Abstinence works!)

No!

Say it ain't so, Janiece.

/sarcasm

Way I look at is this, think of it as evolution in action. Sorry, kids, your parent are idiots, you lose. Too bad but nature doesn't give a fuck about you.

My kid? My kid gets whatever inoculations are approved and available. Giving him a distinct advantage (and in this case, should it be approved, his spouse someday) over the non-immunized kids.

Sooner or later, the religious wankers are going to breed themselves right out of the gene pool. And really, good riddance.

Janiece Murphy said...

Jim, I know - it's simply SHOCKING.

neurondoc said...

Please catch me, when I faint from shock.

And that sucker has my daughter's name on it in about 7 years. She'll have sex whenever she does, regardless of that particular jab.

Megan said...

Nurses have been vaccinating infants against hepatitis B for years. No howls of disapproval.

Vaccinate women against HPV, though, and the gloves are off.

Janiece Murphy said...

Hi Megan. I don't get it either.

I happen to think safe immunization against nasty germs is appropriate for both genders.

But then, I'm a dirty, dirty liberal heathen, so what do I know?

Steve Buchheit said...

Yeah it's pointless that we still have the cultural memory of goldfish. That we still deal with the "girls are pure, while we push out boys out to rut" mentality is beyond me. That we can't deal with the reality of the CD tracking several VD outbreaks among teens (and the elderly). That the girls participate in "Playboy Channel Parties" just as much as the boys. But then mentally society dresses the little girls in communion dresses. Sometimes I'm just gobsmacked by it all.

Steve Buchheit said...

that would be the "CDC tracking." Me and my raking numbed fingers and stinging palms.