Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Divisive New Medical Issue


According to the story, innovative vaccines that could potentially protect against herpes and another prominent, cancer-causing sexually transmitted disease are causing a great deal of controversy – because to be effective, both would have to be administered to children around the age of twelve, in order to prevent future infection.

Merck’s new vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) could possibly be submitted to the FDA for review by the end of the year, while Glaxo’s new shot aimed at preventing genital herpes is in the final stages of production. Both of these are predicted to be most effective when given to pre-adolescents.

In the article, it is noted that the conservative Family Research Council issued a statement it was opposed to the shots because they believed that teenagers would see the inoculations as “a license to engage in premarital sex”.

Additionally, Scott Phelps, the executive director of the Abstinence and Marriage Education Partnership, recently wrote that “sexually transmitted diseases in the United States will not be contained by injecting vaccines into pre-adolescents in anticipation of promiscuous behavior.”

Organizations like the Family Research Council and the Abstinence and Marriage Education Partnership are both guilty of being incredibly naïve. Conservative coalitions like these seem to live in fairy-tale worlds where dating only occurs after marriage and everyone is pure and chaste. Unfortunately for them, that isn’t how it is. And we need to take every opportunity to prevent the spread of venereal disease.

Here’s a memo for the Family Research Council – American teenagers don’t need a “license to engage in premarital sex”, because they are by nature rebellious and are going to do it anyways. While some research may show that abstinence education is moderately effective, given human nature, it would be inherently impossible for everyone to practice abstinence until marriage. And denying millions of U.S. citizens the protection from disease just because you want to protect children from a reality that they will eventually have to face is nearly criminal. Hopefully, the FDA isn’t persuaded by such groups and approves and distributes both drugs. Our future may actually depend on it.