Friday, May 10, 2013
Among the sexually transmitted infections, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV, to its friends) is among the least glamorous. Everyone knows syphilis and gonorrhea, but for some reason HPV doesn't share their celebrity. It should, because some strains of it cause a very common and highly unpleasant problem, genital warts -- or warts wherever people's parts happen to interact, and you can use your imagination. Other strains cause cancer -- cervical, genital, anal, oral and pharyngeal. In fact, HPV is basically the cause of cervical cancer.
So it doesn't take a sodomite to see that a vaccine which is highly effective in preventing transmission of HPV would be a good thing for humanity. Or so one might think. Texas Governor Rick Perry found out the hard way that this isn't so by doing the right thing for what may well be the one and only time in his term in office, and mandating that adolescent girls get the vaccine. All the lovers of Jesus in Texas immediately raised a massive outcry because they knew that the only reason their daughters weren't having sex with the entire football team was fear of genital warts. Michelle Bachmann figured she had a knockout punch in a Republican primary debate in 2011 when she raised the issue, and said after the debate "There’s a woman who came up crying to me tonight after the debate. She said her daughter was given that vaccine. She told me her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result. There are very dangerous consequences." Sarah Palin weighed in with some cheer leading.
Hoo boy. It turns out that in Australia, the people are not insane. They've been vaccinating girls since 2007, and guess what? The diagnosis of genital warts in women and girls under 21 went down from 11.5% to .85%. It's too soon to say what will happen to cancer, but presumably in a decade or two we'll see that going way down as well. We have not, however, heard of an epidemic of sexual promiscuity in the land of the wallaby and the billabong.
So let's be clear. Religion is bad for your brain, and your body, at least if you make it a guide to any sort of decision. We've eradicated smallpox and we've almost done with the guinea worm and polio -- but religion has turned out to be the main obstacle to finishing the job with polio, in this case Islamic leaders claiming the polio vaccine is a Christian plot to sterilize muslims. HPV is potentially eradicable as well. But first we have to eradicate the ravings of idiots.