HPV Vaccine: Then and Now

Remember back in the summer of 2007, when two pharmaceutical companies
released a vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV), how if girls
were vaccinated against HPV, it could prevent them getting cervical
cancer later in life, and the religious right
got all bent out of shape about it?:

A spokeswoman for the Family Research Council (FRC) says young women should have to deal with the consequences of a rapidly spreading sexually transmitted disease rather then rely on a new vaccine.

The FRC’s Bridget Maher said her group believes over-reliance on the vaccine for the human papilloma virus (HPV) could send the wrong message to young women. “Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV,” Maher told New Scientist. “Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex.”

Rivka at Respectful of Otters has a
of similar sentiments from the theosphere in 2006.

But that was then. Now, Merck has
released a new version of the vaccine
suitable for boys, which can prevent penile and anal cancer later in

Groups that initially were critical when Gardasil was introduced for girls say they now want to make sure the decision is left up to parents.

“We do not oppose the development or distribution of the vaccine,” said Peter S. Sprigg of the Family Research Council. “The only concern we have is about proposals to make vaccination mandatory for school attendance. It’s a parental rights issue.”

In fairness, I should note that the FRC’s official position
in 2007
seems to be the same:

Q: Would vaccinating individuals against a sexually transmitted disease lead them to be more sexually active?

A: Not necessarily.

so it may be that Bridget Maher wasn’t speaking on behalf of the FRC,
or it could be that they were careful not to put their fearmongering
on the web where it could be scraped by the
Wayback Machine. It’d be
interesting to go through the organizations mentioned at Respectful to
Otters and see if there’s the same kind of indignation against a
vaccine for boys as there was against one for girls.