Thursday, February 22, 2007

I'm SOOOO Glad I Can Say

I have NEVER voted for Rick Perry.
First he has a bright idea {planted in his itsy bitsy, money grubbin' mind by his former chief-of-staff, who is now a lobbyist for Merck} that every school girl entering the 6th grade or who is 11 years of age must receive the HPV vaccine manufactured by Merck. More on this in a bit. Now he wants to SELL the Lottery. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? How much money are you gonna make off THAT deal, Rick?

Now back to the HPV hurricane o' shite: I never thought I would find myself saying I was in agreement with Perry on any issue, but I am, sort of.
I am ambivalent about this issue. You see, at one time I was a gradual student in Community Health Education. My educational goal was to get the sheepskin so that I could have the credentials to design educational programs for Middle and High School students in Texas to prevent STD's and pregnancy. I ain't talkin' abstinence, folks. Abstinence is what Moms and Dads need to teach. Since Texas has the second highest Teen pregnancy rate in the country, Mom and Dad ain't doin' such a good job are they?
No, I'm talkin' real, down and 'dirty', effective, in your face, in the language they speak, what will hit them where they live, and WORK education programs. I'm talkin' havin teen Moms their age with two babies comin in and talkin' to 13 y.o. girls and tellin them how frickin hard it is to make ends meet on AFDC and food stamps when her boyfriend(s) disappear and her Mom kicks her out. I'm talkin' having a 16 y.o. HIV+ girl or guy come in and talk about how s/he bacame sexually active at 14 and is now facing a lifespan of 15 more years filled with medicine and doctors and infections and little or no sex. I'm talking graphic pictures of infected genetalia with gonorhea and syphilis and HPV and the other Herpes because Love isn't always forever, but Herpes IS!
And my Graduate advisor, gawds Bless her, sat me down and gave me a dose of reality. She asked me if I'd be willing to leave Texas, I of course said, "NO". "Well then," says she, "you're going to spend your professional career butting your head against one brick wall after another. No school district in Texas will let you put those kinds of programs into action." I start to sputter, and she cuts me off, "I'm not saying they wouldn't work. They would! But, parents don't WANT their little 'babies' confronted with life's hard truths. It might make them promiscuous. Never mind that they already ARE promiscuous, they don't want to hear it, and they don't want their kids to hear it."

When you hear on the news that Texas' teen pregnancy rates are falling...take that with a grain of salt, preferably followed by a shot of Tequila. Because all that means is that the flood waters are at 5 feet instead of 5 feet 5 inches. There's still WAAAY too much unprotected sex goin' on among our teens. How do I know this? Look at our STD and HIV infection rates for teens. They are among the highest in the nation and rising.

When I hear that Perry has MANDATED all sixth grade girls be innoculated against HPV, which can cause cervical cancer, among other types of cancer; I was immediately ambivalent. The would-be Community Health Educator was for it because it had the potential to decrease the future cervical cancer rates in sexually active women. The Iconoclast and Independent Thinker part of me was sayin' "Not only NO, but HaylNO!!!" Not to mention the part of me that has never, ever cast a vote for Rick Perry, SHE was against it on principle. If Perry was gonna tell the Parents of Texas their Darlin' Daughters HAVE to have this series of expensive shots from a company he just Happens to have ties to... then I was against it. Jeez, I'm startin' to sound like a certain MPD Saint I know.

So I still think, from a Public Health standpoint, that parents should be "encouraged" to innoculate their daughters BEFORE they become sexually active. Please, for the LOVE of your daughters, don't delude yourselves into thinking YOUR daughter will be different from all those other girls. I wasn't aware of the age at which MY daughter became active. MY Mother was not aware of the age at which I became active. Don't risk her future health on the supposition that you can inculcate her with the "right" values and morals. You can TRY, and I wish you all the luck in the world, I sincerely hope you succeed. But if I had a 10 y.o. girl- child, I'd be in her pediatrician's office asking for information and finding a way to pay for that series of shots.
It's better than going to her funeral if she dies of Cervical Cancer when she's 27, or 37 or even 47 or 57 because I THOUGHT I could keep her chaste until marriage and then make sure she married a virgin who would never violate their marriage vows.


Rabbit said...

I'm no fan of Perry, either. I am all for PARENTS getting their kids inoculated but I'm fine with the State *suggesting* it rather than mandating it. I wouldn't mind a special assistance fund from the State Health Department kicking in some money to help defray the expense, either.

I'd just as soon not get into the whole ethics question on this. I know it all stinks and I'd like to think I'm above the level of politicians on the take. Evidently Texas politics are becoming more and more like Mexican politics. More porous a border than we thought, I guess...or, Louisiana is leeching out on their western border.

When I was doing my community health rotations, one of my high school buddies was teaching health at our alma mater. I gave a presentation on testicular cancer to his (all male) junior and senior level class, which was well-received- models, charts, icky stuff and all. I even got the principal's approval prior to doing it (big surprse there), and was asked to come back and give it again on 2 subsequent occasions.

I agree, if it saves one life, it's a good thing. I just don't like the idea of pols profiting from it. More and more, it seems like the 'average' parent just isn't up to the job of parenting.


Lovi said...

I don't believe it should be mandated either at this stage. I have made arrangements for DD to recieve her series because I believe that the benefits are priceless. However (at least here) our insurance company will not pay for this and the shots (there are 3 to the series) are expensive. DH's union will be picking up the bill for us once the series is completed. But what about others who don't have this resource? Granted the benefits far outweigh the costs but when it has to be paid for upfront this can become a financial burden. I checked with the county and there is any savings by going through them. What I found interesting is that a few of the baby innoculations are just as expensive - yet the dr's office will keep those on hand - but not the HPV nor do you have to pay upfront for them like they are asking for the HPV. Interesting topic