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HPV vaccine should not be an issue of morality

Here’s a reminder for the Republican Party: Conservatism is supposed to be about less government control, not more.

Unfortunately, some Republicans have no idea what conservatism is. They may not want government control when it comes to your wallet, but they certainly want it when it comes to what happens in your bedroom. Endorsement of this sort of moral authority not only gives all conservatives a bad reputation, it’s also antithetical to conservatism. Often enough, it’s downright dangerous.

The newest threat to a society where sex only happens after marriage is the newly approved vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, high-risk strains of HPV “lead to cancer of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus or penis.” Other strains of HPV – two of which are blocked by the vaccine – cause genital warts. Around 20 million people in the United States are infected with the virus, and an estimated 6.2 million additional Americans get it every year. The use of condoms does not stop the transmission of HPV. There is no cure.

The good news is that of more than 100 different strains of HPV, only around 30 affect the genitals, and around 10 are considered high risk. HPV infections only very rarely cause cancer, and most people who acquire an infection will recover on their own after experiencing no symptoms. Most don’t know they ever had it.

So the danger posed by HPV isn’t egregious. Certainly it is not egregious enough to stop people who are otherwise inclined to have sex. However, for that rare case where an HPV infection can cause serious consequences, a vaccine would not be such a bad idea.

That’s why Merck-Medco brought Gardasil to the Food and Drug Administration. There is a huge market for this vaccination, since the most prevalent sexually transmitted disease is HPV. The FDA has approved the use of Gardasil for women ages 9 to 26.

No, this is not because the government wants 9-year-old to have sex. It’s because Gardasil is only effective when it’s given before a person is exposed to HPV.

There are two major objections to the vaccine, thought neither are relevant. One objection states that such a vaccine should only be given with the consent of the child’s parents, thereby objecting to the potentially mandatory nature of the vaccine. The other objection is that it undermines abstinence-only messages, and that people who are vaccinated will be enticed to engage in risky behavior under the illusion of safety, a

phenomenon known as


I would wager a bet that if a cure for AIDS came along, people would protest against its use, or at the very least protest against their child being given it without their consent. Parental consent has no place in this debate. The HPV vaccine is a cure for certain types of caner and an STD. Its use will save lives.

Per the disinhibition argument, teens vaccinated for HPV would be more likely to have sex because of a false perception that sex would become safer after the vaccination. This won’t happen.

It basically can’t happen, given the number of teens who are sexually active. Overall, 55 percent of males 15-19 and 54 percent of females 15-19 have engaged in oral sex, according to a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics in 2005. 53 percent of girls and 49 percent of boys in the same age group have had intercourse. The great sexual liberation that foes of the vaccine fear is already present. A new tactic needs to be introduced.

Part of that tactic should be admitting it’s a human being’s biological desires which undermine abstinence-only messages – not vaccines.

Conservatism is an ideal that entails entrepreneurship, self-responsibility, low taxes and the unobtrusiveness of government in general. Legislating morality by opposing an effective vaccine due to moral concerns is not an ideal of conservatism. Moral legislation is a testament to a faith in big government that is antithetical to the ideals of real conservatives. Marriage and sexual abstinence are choices; they shouldn’t be governmental decrees.

After all, even Rush Limbaugh has been divorced three times.

Jordan Capobianco is a senior majoring in English literature.