One in five Americans have a sexually transmitted disease, and the most common STD is the human papilloma virus. HPV has been linked to cervical cancer, and for the last several years, health officials have been encouraging teen girls to get vaccinated against HPV. Though some people are opposed to the vaccination because they believe that it will encourage promiscuity, many others look upon the vaccination as a positive step toward protecting girls and women from both a very common form of STD as well as cervical cancer.
The vaccine was approved for use by males in 2009, and now some doctors are encouraging boys to get the vaccine as an additional step in protecting girls. Not only will this "herd immunity" approach be beneficial for girls, but HPV can also potentially cause genital warts and anal cancer in boys and men. Medicaid and many private insurance companies cover the cost of the vaccination (around $400) for girls, but for the moment, boys are far less likely to be covered. Why though? The vaccination protects boys from HPV, as well as possible future illnesses, so I find it interesting that girls can be protected, but not boys.
At least the times are changing: at one point, erectile dysfunction medication--aka Viagra--was covered by most insurance plans, but far fewer plans covered birth control. Thankfully, that will change completely by August of next year: "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced new guidelines in Washington Monday requiring health insurance plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012 to cover several women's preventive services, including birth control and voluntary sterilization." This change, of course, comes with its own moral opposition.
Regardless of the controversies, it's nice to see that the sexual health and safety of girls is being taken more seriously. By protecting the health of our girls, we protect the health of everyone. And hopefully boys will take part in protecting themselves and girls.
Girl Museum Inc.