On Gardasil For Guys / Boys, Girls And The HPV Vaccine

Despite The Hamster Wheel’s gentle mocking of the departed Hungry Beast show last night (“Vaginas, Robots, Vox Pops and Graphics?”) – you have to admit that they were ahead of the bell-curve when it came to suggesting the HPV vaccine for men as well as women:

That is the great Daniel ‘Professor Funk’ Keogh, local Perth science celebrity and the creator of the ‘The Strange Power Of The Placebo Effect‘ video that I put onto the Token Skeptic podcast about a year ago(with many, many thanks!). Turns out that The New Yorker is getting into the act as well: BOYS, GIRLS, AND THE HPV VACCINE

Vaccinating boys keeps them from getting sick, and that may be the main way this is sold. But, as the C.D.C. panel noted, it “may also provide indirect protection of women.” One would think that raising boys to be men who protect women (and other men), directly or indirectly, would be a conservative priority as well. The maddening thing about vaccine opponents is the way they rely on the immunity of most of us, while facilitating new outbreaks of obsolete diseases. (I’ve written before about how scared I was when I was pregnant, and my doctor found that my rubella immunity had faded, that I would run into children whose parents had let them run around without the M.M.R. vaccine. Unlike the vaccine that prevents it, prenatal exposure to rubella, also known as German measles, really can cause mental disabilities.)

“This is cancer, for Pete’s sake,” William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt professor who worked with the panel, told Harris. “A vaccine against cancer was the dream of our youth.” A dream of our youth, frustrated, perhaps, by distorted fantasies about the country’s youth, and what this means for them. Isn’t our dream of and for our youth that they grow up to be adults—healthy, safe, and responsible?


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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • Stoddy

    THAT’S the guy who did the Placebo video? He rocks!

  • dougpaice

    I looked into getting my son (almost 14) the vaccination, his twin sister got it for free. The pharmacist said the full course would cost over $300. Still thinking it through. I’m happy to pay, but it’d be nice if it was recognized by the PBS

  • hoverfrog

    We vaccinate a population, not just those who might show symptoms of the disease.

  • davidct

    The HPV virus is widely distributed in the population. To turn our backs on a chance of wiping this infection off the face of the earth is a tribute to human selfishness.

    Most of the objections I hear are from some perverted religious biases. There is some belief that a normal biological function that is pleasurable is somehow evil. Since the act is evil, the participants deserve what they get. Sex is bad so it must be discouraged. This argument is joined with the general antivax mentality or freedom to carry around any damn pox as long as a vaccination is required.

    The short term cost is bit high but there are other issues for males than the low risk of serious health consequences. I have a personal experience with the issue of HPV infection which makes me wish it had been available when I was younger.

    Some years ago I found myself single again after many years in a monogamous marriage (as opposed to one with affairs). I met a delightful woman and when it became obvious that we found each other attractive she told me that she carried HPV. She had been infected by her ex-husband who did not know he had it. I thought I had met the woman of my dreams and since the risk to a male is usually not a big deal, I assumed that it would be something we would just have to share if we were to be together. Unfortunately I turned out not to be what she wanted.

    I have never had any indication that I carried the virus but went to be tested to be sure. That is when I found out that at the time there was no test for a male. Neither of us had done anything wrong other than being briefly lovers. While there is very little chance that I am a carrier it is something I have to bring up. I like women and when I have a chance to be a lover, I enjoy that. I do not like the fact that there could be a slim risk of doing my partners harm and this would not have been an issue if there had been a vaccination available for me to take. It is not just avoiding the disease, there is also a significant emotional burden that could be avoided.

    You have female comments to this blog so I wanted to add a male perspective.

  • palefury

    I am so glad that someone finally came out and said this!

    HPV is also associated with penile and anal cancer, and HPV-driven anal cancer rates are scarily prevalent in gay men.

    So everyone protect yourself and the people you love/care about/have intimate relations with.

    - such a shame it isn’t subsidized for everyone.

  • Becca

    When Gardisil first came available, I had both my kids vaccinated – boy and girl. I figured I was out the $300 for my son’s shots, but to my surprise and pleasure, our insurance picked it up.