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.