The Uncommon Man

October 11, 2005

Immunizing Boys to Protect Girls

There is new drug called Gardasil which, given as a vaccine, will help guard against cervical cancer. The drug is to be given to young women before they become sexually active (the HPV virus, which the vaccine works against, is transmitted sexually and is the cause of cervical cancer). This is great news.

There are several concerns with the administration of this drug (one from the conservative-front about the use of the vaccine encouraging promiscuity), but also about the potential for the vaccine to be given to young boys before they become sexually active. There is a great overview and discussion in the comments-section of Hugo Schwyzer's blog.

Here is the quote from the LA Times that Hugo references:

If approved, the vaccine would probably be administered to children 12 or younger, before they become sexually active — including boys, who can be carriers of the virus.

Here are two quotes from Hugo on the implications of this:

But as a man interested in pro-feminist work with young men, I'm thrilled by the prospect of the vaccine being given to young men and boys. One of the most important things we in the pro-feminist movement try to do is teach young men to take an interest in, and to some degree, a responsibility for, the health of their current or future sexual partners.

And:

Without dis-empowering girls, we do well to teach boys that there are some tangible and practical ways in which they can take care of the young women in their lives.

Right on! My only concern with this train of thought is - who is going to make clear the connection to young men that by taking this vaccine they are taking responsibility for their future sexual partners? Given that we seem to have taken some steps backwards in recent years in regards to responsible sexuality, I don't see how this would be clearly communicated. It would likely become just another of a series of vaccines that children get, often without much real information about the importance of receiving them.

If you want to read more about this and the stimulating conversation in the comment section - check out Hugo's post here.

Posted by Russell at October 11, 2005 09:04 AM

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