Friday, November 04, 2005

"Thank Heaven For Little Girls"

dKos' DarkSyde has been publishing a great series called "Science Friday", in which he explains a variety of science topics in ways that are easy for us non-scientists to get our heads around. Of particular note are his explanations of evolutionary mechanisms, and in them he's done a fabulous job refuting some of the utter crap asserted by ID proponents. As such, I got hooked on his diaries and make them part of my Friday menu.

Today's piece is no exception in terms of quality, though the topic is a little less hard science and more socio-political import. In discussing the HPV virus, the developments in vaccine technology, and the religious-right's catastrophically absurd opposition to wide-spread vaccination, he touches a topic near & dear to my heart. Not only is the writing absolutely superb, but it's a great primer if you're unfamiliar with HPV.

Get this on your "must read" list, and forward the link on to your friends and family. This is the kind of topic that's apt to wind its way into your local school board or PTA discussions, as mandatory vaccination for all girls (and boys?) is being advocated by people of reason and opposed by idiot Thumpers.

Enjoy.

7 comments:

Renee said...

Very powerful stuff. I have HPV and need to schedule a PAP ASAP.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

Goodness, Renee! I presume it's the non-cancerous form? Yes, please do take care of yourself, luv.

Lily said...

Did I mention how upsetting that was, that piece? Dammit.
CB your question confuses me when you say "the non cancerous form'. Isn't HPV a viral infection that can TRIGGER/DEVELOP cancers because of the cell growth, such as cervical, and women with HPV both actively and past outbreaks (warts, etc.) are at high risk for developing cancer and therefore need to be very diligent about Paps? I was not aware that there is a cancerous 'form'. if you have cancer, you have cancer. If you develop cancer because of HPV, then you have HPV AND cancer, no?
HPV is very common as you know from that article, and it is important to get those PAPS.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

I was under the impression (and I may have either misunderstood or drawn from a poor source) that there are a handful of different strains, a couple of which are generally not cancer causing. Do I have that wrong?

Renee said...

I can't presume anything. I'm calling my GYNO today.

Lily said...

As usual, we should all defer to our clinicians and insist on patient education, and not allow shame or discomfort to kill us. I can tell you about women that died from procrastination and shame.

My understanding is that by virtue of the fact that they cause skin/tissue abnormalities they are inherently cancer-contributing but not cancer in and of themselves- you know what I am saying? Technicality maybe. In your post you mentioned the 'non cancerous form' so thats why I wondered of that was factually accurate.Did you mean a strain that is less likely to result in cancer?Do they distinguish it that way? My meaning was that I did not think HPV was characterized as either a cancer strain or a non cancer strain, but that by strain, location, predispostion, and other factors some will get cancer and some will not expressed as numerical probabilities. Not everyone gets cancer from smoking, but certainly it can be directly linked as a huge risk factor. So same with HPV, HPV is not CANCER, it is a pre-cursor, like sunburn, smoke, polyps, radiation- which boost your odds which is why eradicating HPV in women is such a significant step toward decreasing cancer. Do I not have that right?
Someone I know with HPV was never told if it was a desireable strain, simply that she would need to consider more aggressive prevention due to increased risk, be diligent about PAPs and other screening tools, to always share this history despite embarrassment so that she would be assessed properly for risk factors, and to be mindful when taking medications or utilizing cancer-promoting meds or activities. Don't be a woman who forgets the OB/GYN appt- get yourself there especially if you've had HPV because the common cancers (cervical, etc) are treatable in early stages.

Cantankerous Bitch said...

Thanks for elaborating, Lily. I'll dig up some more and see where I've gaps in my understanding and will update this post with anything enlightening I find.