Friday, May 25, 2007

Let's talk about sex?

For the record, I was a sexual health awareness peer educator. I got paid to go into the dorms, frat houses, and other group settings to talk about sex and how to make safe and healthy decisions. Seriously, the decisions you make about sex impact you for a lifetime. I believe you need all the information available to make those choices. Information is power. Truly it is, limited information limits power.

I also am a big believer that most of us live our lives in the gray area. Very seldom is life totally black or white. It is all shades of gray. It is also crazy to think that choices you make at 15, 25, 35, will all be the same. Seriously, human beings have free will and sometimes we change our minds.

So where am I going with this.....

I will tell you!

Gardasil, the vaccine for HPV is a good idea. Seriously. Cervical cancer kills 10 women in the US a day. Most cervical cancer is caused by a strain of the HPV virus. Also, hello - this is a vaccine which works for a virus! BIGTIME NEWS. Others might be on the way.....

I agree that young girls should not be having sex. How old is old enough, I am not sure. I think 14 is too young. Is 16, 18, 20 mmm not sure. But bottom line, this vaccine works best when given to women ages 9 to 26. It is taken over a period of months and requires three shots. It costs $360, but it could save a woman's life.

There are two big anti arguments. First there is no long term track record. This is an issue. I get that. That is a valid reason to wait and see.

The other issue is that many conservatives think that it will increase a girls likelihood of engaging in premartial sex. What? Are they even in the ball park. Hormones and natural curiosity increases a girls changes of engaging in sex. (Hell, if she is like me tell me not to do something and boy howdy I want to do it more.) Peer pressure or pressure from a boyfriend increases her chances of engaging in sex. Having a vaccine that will likely lower her risk for cervical cancer, should she be exposed to HPV - really I just don't see a connection.

I also do not believe that young people need to wait to have sex until they are married. I think everyone has their own opinion there and it is up to every individual to make that choice. Again knowledge is power. There are no one size fits all answers. Again, lots of gray area.

Abstinence only sex ed has a really high failure rate. For better or worse, young men and women are having sex. But let's just assume for a moment (I know it is hard, but let's all stretch our gray matter a bit) - that everyone was going to refrain from having sex until they get married. Does that mean Gardasil is no longer an important vaccine. Ahh, no. There is no guarantee that everyone will remain faithful. That no man is going to visit with a prostitute while one vacation. (It is called the worlds oldest profession for a reason.) That no marriages are going to fail and adults might be tempted.

The truth of the matter is we have a way to prevent certain cervical cancers. We should jump on that. While we are at it, we should be talking to our daughters and sons and sharing our views on sex. We are their best teachers. But at the end of the day, they are their own people, they will make this decision on their own and I for one, want to do what I can to protect them... knowledge is power.


Jason K. said...

This vaccine is definitely a hot button issue with me. I see things exactly the way you see them. I actually went on a long rant on my blog about how wrong the religious right is to oppose this vaccine. The fact of the matter is that we are presented with a chance to save lives. Teenagers don't often examine the consequences of their actions as far as sex is concerned, and a girl is going to make the choice to have sex when she feels the time is right. I think that preventing loss of life is more important than potential sin, and who knows if the vaccine will even affect that.

In other news though, I have heard that they are seeing some side effects. I can't find the article at the moment, but I think it claimed that 3 girls have died of complications in relation with the vaccine. The safety of the vaccine is another issue. While the vaccine should be open to anyone, I wouldn't want the schools requiring it until it has been around for a few years. We always see health issues arise with new vaccines, and I wouldn't want to put my kids (if I had any) in harm's way just yet.

Susan said...

Jason -

I totally agree. Making it mandatory is a bit premature, but few people have made that agruement. It is the after thought or the lead in. Linking an increase in teen sexual activity and the like is what I find crazy.

Object to the lack of science. Totally cool. But I like you find the other reasons for protest, rather groundless.

Jason K. said...

Vaccine Article. The compulsory vaccination is actually becoming an issue quite rapidly. In fact, Virginia already has a law requiring vaccination. Texas was also on course to make it mandatory until it was blocked by the state senate back in April. I wouldn't have any objection to mandatory vaccination, but I do think it is too early to see some of the hidden side effects that might surface years after the shot is given.

Susan said...

I totally agree. My fear is the hard science is going to get lost in the moral debate and that would be a real shame.

I am lucky, my daughter is still younng, but I am hoping the science is there when the time comes.

It is really exciting that we have a vaccine for a virus. It is a huge break through.