Thursday, April 26, 2007

And now, for something completely different

I'll just cut to the chase. If you are a woman under the age of 27, run, don't walk, to your favorite doctor, internist, gynocologist, whatever, and get the series of HPV shots. There are three of them. They hurt like hell (or maybe I'm just petrified of needles...), but colposcopies and cervical cancer hurt worse.

Why do I care? Well, two reasons. I'm at a high enough risk for enough other cancers, and I'd really like to keep cervical cancer off that list. In my efforts to take care of myself, I got the first of the three shots on Tuesday. My arm didn't fall off, so I'll go back in 2 months for the second shot. The good news - my health insurance covers them. The realistic news - even if my health insurance didn't cover them, I'd get them anyways. They're that important.

Reason number two? The one thing the Governor of Texas has ever done that I've wholeheartedly supported was shot down by the Texas Legislature out of a sense of foolish, dangerous pride. The Governor sidestepped the Legislature by issuing a mandate that female students in the State of Texas receive the shot in order to enroll in school from grade six and beyond. The Legislature got their feelings hurt and passed a bill instating a four year moratorium on any mandate requiring the shot as a prerequisite to school enrollment. Parents are in an uproar because they don't want to talk to younger children about the purpose of the shots for fear that it will start a premature conversation about sex. Well, guess what? Teens are becoming sexually active at younger ages, and if all we do is stick our heads in the sand, we'll end up with a bunch of disease ridden, confused teenagers. When it comes to sex, ignorance doesn't equal abstinence.

That being said, my readers are old enough to know where everything is and what it all does (or doesn't do... but that's another blog for another day). I don't really care if you're married or in a monogamous relationship. You still need the shots. HPV is a virus that can lie dormant in your body for years before becoming active, so even if you've been faithful to your favorite guy, that crazy frat boy from college might still come back to haunt you when you least expect it. Even scarier, it will eventually affect 80% of women at some point in their lives. It's a game of Russian Roulette if you're part of that 80%, because you might be unlucky enough to contract the strain that causes genital warts or worse, cancer. Get the shots, and take a friend so she'll get her shots, too. Make a day of it. There's just no real good reason not to.

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