Monday, July 03, 2006

Rice Mamas: La Dra. on a Breakthrough in Women's Health

We've often thought it'd be cool if our partners-in-crime wanted to speak for themselves here on Rice Daddies. Well, today, we have our first post by a Rice Mama—my lovely and talented wife, la dra. (That's "la doctora, " not "la druh," people, Spanish for "the doctor," which she is.)

I would do anything to protect my daughter’s health and safety. The news that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which advises the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), recommended the routine giving of the new Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to girls as young as age 9 gives parents of daughters one less thing to worry about: cervical cancer.

Here, in our lifetime, is a vaccine preventable cancer! Nothing else like this has ever happened before. The second leading cancer-killer of women worldwide could be like diptheria—what’s that? exactly—in a few generations. In our children’s generation!

But I feel like I am the only one excited about this. [Full disclosure: I'm a board-certified family physician working in a non-profit community health clinic]. If you read the newspapers, the spin is about the “controversy” of giving children a vaccine for an STD. Hello? This STD causes cancer! Who would knowingly deny their child protection from cancer? Where is the controversy? [See this story for a slightly different take on it.]

I have to believe parents will support this vaccine. I believe insurers will reimburse for this vaccine. But the vulnerable population of uninsured children has its fate cradled in the hands of policymakers who, I hope, would make the same decision to protect these millions of children that they would to protect their own. I fear, however, that these children will get lost amidst the rhetoric and the politics, and that “abstinence only” will be their only protection against cervical cancer (while their better-insured peers grow up vaccinated). "Abstinence only" rhetoric won't protect against HPV contraction during rape, and HPV doesn't discriminate between sexual contact and sexual intercourse or between unmarried teenagers and women who waited until marriage. If you're worried that giving your daughter a vaccine at age 12 will automatically send all your teaching out the window, then either you're selling yourself short or you have other things to worry about.

People talk angrily and fearfully about things like promiscuity and abstinence or morality and government interference, but at the bottom, this is about one thing, and one thing only: protecting our daughters from a horrible, and now preventable, disease. Looked at that way, I don’t think anyone could really be against getting this vaccine. So let’s rejoice together! A day has come that we thought might never come in our lifetimes.


weigooksaram said...

I like the idea of guest posts by the Rice Mamas.

Like you, I can't believe parents are actually against a vaccine that would prevent their kids from getting cancer. It's sad.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone think this type of vaccine would lead to sexual activity? How many of us remember what danged shots we got as kids? You take your kid to the dr, they get the shot and they don't necessarily know what its for.

But on the other hand, while I'm not against the idea of the vaccine I confess to being a little concerned. I have read so many stories these days about lame and incomplete drug testing in some corporate rush to get the product to market. For example, the same week the news of the vaccine came out, there was also news about some new antibiotic that can cause liver failure with a few doses.

As much as I want to protect my daughter, I confess to being scared that the vaccine may not be fully tested and I don't want her to be the guinea pig. And thats what I hear from the moms I hang with--not concern about sexual activity but fear that it may not be fully tested like thalidimide and so many others.

superha said...

Yay la dra! Yay! I say give the girls the vaccine and tell 'em it's mandatory for all princesses. :) It'll protect them forever and they'll be so happy for it.

nina said...

Thanks for the great post La Dra.

Brianna said...

I have to say, as someone who was scared out of her mind when my doctor told me I had hpv (what???) and that it was "pre-cancerous"...I am beyond thrilled that this vaccine is coming out.
There are so many women that have this. No one talks about it. It's scary in that unless you are good about paps, you would never know you had it (some forms). I will most certainly have my child get this vaccine. You never know who has it, and if condoms don't prevent the spread totally...just makes sense! (great post : )

Anonymous said...

So good topic really i like any post talking about STD Symptoms but i want to say thing to u STD Disease not that only ... you can see in STD Illness Crabs STD symptoms and more , you shall search in Google and Wikipedia about that .... thanks a gain ,,,