News Afternoon News
posted by February 28 at 14:00 PMon
As the American Medical Association reported today, about 26.8 percent of women and girls age 14-59 have a strain of the human papillomavirus, certain strains of which cause cervical cancer. The number of women age 20 to 24 with HPV was dramatically higher than in other age groups, indicating a recent surge in infections. The study also found that 3.4 percent of women had one of the four strains of HPV that Merck’s vaccine Gardasil protects against. (HPV, which is sexually transmitted, also causes genital warts.) The fundamentalist backlash against mandatory HPV vaccination has been swift; already, three families have sued to challenge Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s order mandating HPV vaccines for all girls in the sixth grade. The logic? Vaccination encourages promiscuity. (Yeah, sort of like how wearing a seatbelt encourages car crashes.) And never mind that 95 percent of Americans have sex before marriage anyway.
Meanwhile, the Bush administration has decided women’s health is 25 percent less important this year, and slashed funds for the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health by $1.2 million. The 25 percent cut in the office’s $4 million budget means the women’s health office will have to cease operations for the rest of the year. The office funds crucial research on the differences between male and female biology to ensure that women get the right drug dosages and treatments, and provides health information about menopause, pregnancy, birth control, and osteoporosis, among other things. Women’s health advocates worry that the cuts are payback for standing up for the emergency contraceptive Plan B, and the first step toward eliminating the women’s health office altogether.