Sunday, April 17, 2005

When I wrote this in the fall of 2002, I thought perhaps I was being paranoid:

I'll be very interested to see the reaction of abstinence advocates and other conservatives to the news that researchers have developed a vaccine that prevents transmission of a form of the human papilloma virus (HPV) known to lead to cervical cancer...

... at the very least there will pockets of outraged resistance to the idea that such vaccines should be given to young children (we will be told that the vaccines "encourage promiscuity")....

Guess not:

DEATHS from cervical cancer could jump fourfold to a million a year by 2050, mainly in developing countries. This could be prevented by soon-to-be-approved vaccines against the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer - but there are signs that opposition to the vaccines might lead to many preventable deaths....

In the US, for instance, religious groups are gearing up to oppose vaccination, despite a survey showing 80 per cent of parents favour vaccinating their daughters. "Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV," says Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council, a leading Christian lobby group that has made much of the fact that, because it can spread by skin contact, condoms are not as effective against HPV as they are against other viruses such as HIV.

"Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a licence to engage in premarital sex," Maher claims, though it is arguable how many young women have even heard of the virus....

I went on to say,

More likely, given the near-inevitability of a second term for George Bush, resistance will be fierce and well organized -- and led from within the federal government.

I wonder if that prediction will come true as well (perhaps the opposition to this will be led not by the Bush administration but by Republicans in Congress -- paging Dr. Frist).

Here's a further prediction: Some doctors are going to refuse to provide this vaccine -- and "conscience clauses" are going to make it easy for them to do so.

(Via Cold Fury and Atrios.)

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