Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Is the HPV shot unethical?

Groups working to reduce the toll of the cancer are eagerly awaiting the vaccine and want it to become part of the standard roster of shots that children, especially girls, receive just before puberty.

Because the vaccine protects against a sexually transmitted virus, many conservatives oppose making it mandatory, citing fears that it could send a subtle message condoning sexual activity before marriage. Several leading groups that promote abstinence are meeting this week to formulate official policies on the vaccine.

In the hopes of heading off a confrontation, officials from the companies developing the shots -- Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline -- have been meeting with advocacy groups to try to assuage their concerns.

Can you get HPV from anything other than sex? No. Still, if I had to weigh in on the issue, I think the shot should be available, but not mandatory. Sexually abstinant people would have use for the vaccine, like a person who is marrying someone with previous sexual partners. That's not as uncommon as one would think. I don't think that it's fair to "punish" people with HPV. The damage of premarital sex is bad enough as it is.


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