HPV On the Endangered Species List

OK, that’s an exaggeration. But still, this is pretty amazing:

Two vaccines to prevent HPV infection were introduced a few years back, Gardasil and Cervarix. A new study, as reported by the New York Times and NBC News, shows the vaccine has been a huge success: HPV infection rates have dropped by a staggering 50 percent in U.S. teen girls since the introduction of the vaccine. This is despite the low uptake rate; only about 1/3 of teens 13 – 17 have received the full course of three shots.

These results jibe well with an earlier report from Australia, too. There, HPV infection rates dropped 59 percent in girls and women aged 12 – 26, and 39 percent in boys and men.

Despite the concerns of the anti-vax Left, we have not had an explosion of deaths, dismemberments or mental retardation. And despite the concerns of the Religious Right, there do not appear to be hordes of nubile women roving the countryside looking for men to sleep with now that they are free of the menace of HPV.

(From my perspective, I still share a small concern about the potential side effects of the vaccine. Side effects can take a long time to show up. I personally know women who are DES daughters, suffering fertility problems for drugs they were exposed to in utero. That’s less likely with a strain of a virus hundreds of millions of people have been exposed to. But while the risks of the HPV vaccine now appear to be low, they are unlikely to be zero.

The latter concern — that this would encourage girls to sleep around — was always bullshit. No woman has ever said, “Gee, I’d love to sleep with all these creepy 60-year-old guys who look me up and down. If only it weren’t for the risk of HPV!” If all venereal disease were ever eradicated, we probably would see more promiscuity — incentives matter. But our society would probably not be much more debaucherous than it is now. The primarily limitation on people’s promiscuity is their nature, not the risk of disease.)

I have a severe enough libertarian twitch that I still oppose mandating the vaccine. But I don’t oppose even stronger recommendations coming down from governments in the wake of the new data. This is a virus that can be spread by casual contact. It’s not quite the menace that measles is: the likelihood of any particular infectee developing cancer is low. It’s just that the virus is so common that it murders 4000 American women a year through sheer numbers.

But … this is a disease that we could render extinct. At least in theory.

The eradication of smallpox is one of the greatest achievements in human history. The progress we have made in driving measles, mumps, rubella, etc. out of our society comes a close second. HPV is not in their class. But it maims. It kills. We’ve won the first skirmish with a nasty murderous virus. Time to step up the fight.

Comments are closed.

  1. Mississippi Yankee

    Michael Douglas has shown us, in theory anyway, that this insidious disease doesn’t only kill 4000 women a year but may cause throat cancer as well.

    But then again Douglas might be just one more Hollywood limousine liberal trying to blame all of the country’s problems on bush.

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  2. Seattle Outcast

    And despite the concerns of the Religious Right, there do not appear to be hordes of nubile women roving the countryside looking for men to sleep with now that they are free of the menace of HPV

    Well, duh…. they still haven’t cured herpes, have they? Surely you remember the “gift that keeps on giving” from the late 70’s, years before “you’re gonna’ die if you do anal” was a concern?

    Speaking of which, it was totally amazing how much 4th-rate disinformation was in circulation about how you got the “gay disease” back in the 80’s (the shit I could tell you that people told me with a straight face….). Much of it circulated by various retarded government officials that hoped to “turn back the clock on sexual revolution” by lying to everyone.

    As for making HIV extinct, we could do the same with just about any sexually transmitted disease, yet the clap is making a comeback, and is more resistant to antibiotics than ever. It will be with us until the human race is extinct, and not before.

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  3. Mississippi Yankee

    Back when women douched with Lysol® we didn’t have all of these virii.
    [They actually did, it was one of it’s uses clearly written on the label.]

    Perhaps I should get out of the line of fire for the time being.

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  4. Seattle Outcast

    Lysol? Weirder and weirder.

    Maybe we should come up with a list of all the stupid things people have been told about sex, it would only take forever to get most of it….

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  5. HARLEY

    Back when women douched with Lysol® we didn’t have all of these virii.

    WWO really?. Glad they dont do that any more, that would definitely fuck up the flavor.

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  6. stogy

    Back when women douched with Lysol® we didn’t have all of these virii.

    Wonder if they’d still do that if they knew it was originally developed as a floor cleaning product?

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  7. Seattle Outcast

    Wonder if they’d still do that if they knew it was originally developed as a floor cleaning product?

    please insert your favorite joke about “snail trails” here….

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  8. Mississippi Yankee

    Wonder if they’d still do that if they knew it was originally developed as a floor cleaning product?

    stogy, one of it’s original uses was as a douche. That particular use is no longer listed on the label.

    HARLEY’s comment was “in bad taste” and he should definitely win the comment of the week prize!

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