Thursday, June 15, 2006

Gene Gerard: Religion Running Roughshod Over Cancer Science

Truthdig - Reports - Gene Gerard: Religion Running Roughshod Over Cancer Science: "The Food and Drug Administration advisory panel approved a vaccine for the human papilloma virus (HPV) last week. The vaccine appears to be 100% effective at protecting against the most prevalent viruses that cause cervical cancer. While public health professionals view the vaccine as miraculous, many conservative organizations oppose it on the grounds that it might encourage promiscuity among adolescent girls. Now that the FDA has approved the vaccine, conservatives are already working feverishly to limit or even prevent its use.

Funny, it's usually right wing type men that deride anything that has to do with the female reproductive system. Well guess what? Men get HPV too. Men get what is called genital warts. The National Institutes of Health (where I worked for many years in the National Cancer Institute) says this about HPV:

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common causes of sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world. More than 100 different types of HPV exist, most of which are harmless. About 30 types are spread through sexual contact. Some types of HPV cause genital warts—single or multiple bumps that appear in the genital areas of men and women including the vagina, cervix, vulva (area outside of the vagina), penis, and rectum. Many people infected with HPV have no symptoms.

There are high-risk and low-risk types of HPV. High-risk HPV may cause abnormal Pap smear results, and could lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, or penis. Low-risk HPV also may cause abnormal Pap results or genital warts. Genital warts (sometimes called condylomata acuminata or venereal warts) are the most easily recognized sign of genital HPV infection. Many people, however, have a genital HPV infection without genital warts. The only way you can prevent getting an HPV infection is to avoid direct contact with the virus, which is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. If you or your sexual partner has warts that are visible in the genital area, you should avoid any sexual contact until the warts are treated.

Research studies have not confirmed that male latex condoms prevent transmission of HPV, but studies do suggest that using condoms may reduce your risk of developing diseases linked to HPV, such as genital warts and cervical cancer. Unfortunately, many people who don’t have symptoms don’t know that they can spread the virus to an uninfected partner.

So, it's not just women that get this disease and men spread this disease as well as women. The right-wingers only want to tell half of the story, as usual. Best practice is safe sex, use a condom, and if you are a teen, consider waiting for that first sexual experience....and that includes oral and anal sex. Talk to your parents or an older sibling, an grandparent, Aunt, Uncle or other adult that you are comfortable that you feel you can ask about sex. We older folks won't be shocked, usually, and we will be glad to give you some direct information or help you find the information you need. For more information on sexually transmitted diseases go here

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