HPV (human papalomavirus) is a sexually transmitted virus (80 different strains, 30 of which are common sexually transmitted strains) which in rare cases can lead to cervical cancer. There is now a vaccine but there are a couple of issues with it. First, developing countries are expected to be the hardest hit by cervical cancer caused by HPV and the vaccine happens to be very expensive.
Second, and this is the issue that annoys me, the virus is sexually transmitted and so the vaccine must be administered to young girls before they become sexually active. Somehow, religious groups here in the U.S. see vaccination as a message to a young girl that you expect her to be promiscuous and now you are making that choice safer. A spokesman for "Focus on the Family" puts it this way: "You don't catch it. You have to go out and get it."
I'm afraid I have seen way too many instances of people convinced that those who suffer, have earned that suffering by disobediance to some revealed law from god. I'm convinced this is just human nature, we look for ways to convince ourselves we are superior to others and one of the easiest ways to be convinced of that is to have that fact revealed from on high. It is interesting to note however, that these same people manage to rationalize their own suffering as merely a test to make them stronger. Wouldn't it be nice if we could accept others, even when they make choices we don't agree with, and make them all part of "our group" so that we can see their suffering in the same light we our own.
Anyway, back to the science & society viewpoint here: Science and the benefits it can convey belong to our larger society beyond our religious and microcultural boundaries. If this vaccine can prevent loss, suffering and negative economic impact for our society as a whole, then supporting the administration of this vaccine is in our best interest, assuming as I do that human behavior will be pretty much what it is now. Witholding public support won't change the behavior, and I'm afraid, contrary to what some of these religious groups believe, the suffering that ensues won't convince anyone that those religious groups were right all along, except people that already believed that anyway.
Some informative links:http://www.newscientist.com/channel/sex/mg18624954.500http://www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm
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