No, it’s not another Woody Allen film. It’s the dilemma faced by social conservatives with the development of a vaccine against the sexually-transmitted virus responsible for most cervical cancer. Surprisingly, many don’t seem to see the dilemma: Death before sex, any day! (Unless of course the sex in question is just to propagate the species and no fun is involved and everyone is married to everyone else.)
A Traverse City area physician (Dr. Meg Meeker) was at the forefront of bringing the HPV virus to public attention, which was a good thing. However, Dr. Meeker persistently overstated the risks the virus posed, and I always strongly suspected that her real objective was to discourage pre-marital sex, and that she secretly looked upon HPV as a heaven-sent stratagem to keep people from having sex for the fun of it.
Well, I haven’t heard what Meeker thinks, but other conservatives definitely seem less than thrilled with the recent development of an HPV vaccine. So concerned are they for the moral purity of our womanhood, they’d rather they die of cancer than send a subtle message that sex is OK.
I think if Meeker is really just the concerned doctor she tries to pass herself off as, she’ll condemn these heartless prudes in no uncertain terms.
Cervical Cancer Vaccine Gets Injected With a Social Issue
Some Fear a Shot For Teens Could Encourage Sex
By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 31, 2005; A03
A new vaccine that protects against cervical cancer has set up a clash between health advocates who want to use the shots aggressively to prevent thousands of malignancies and social conservatives who say immunizing teenagers could encourage sexual activity.
Although the vaccine will not become available until next year at the earliest, activists on both sides have begun maneuvering to influence how widely the immunizations will be employed.
Groups working to reduce the toll of the cancer are eagerly awaiting the vaccine and want it to become part of the standard roster of shots that children, especially girls, receive just before puberty.
Because the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted virus, many conservatives oppose making it mandatory, citing fears that it could send a subtle message condoning sexual activity before marriage. Several leading groups that promote abstinence are meeting this week to formulate official policies on the vaccine.
In the hopes of heading off a confrontation, officials from the companies developing the shots — Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline — have been meeting with advocacy groups to try to assuage their concerns.