GOOD

Viral Marketing: What’s Stopping Men From Getting the HPV Vaccine

There’s no way to tell if you, or your partner, lost the genetic lottery. So get the vaccine and tell your friends to do the same.


In early 2011, my doctor informed me that a vaccine to protect against the human papillomavirus—HPV—was now available for men. I was relieved, then frustrated—my doctor didn’t actually offer the principal vaccine, Gardasil, to her male patients. After a couple days of hunting around town, I finally found the vaccine at the Mazzoni Center, a LGBT health clinic in downtown Philly. I received all three shots, and joined the less than 1 percent of American men who are vaccinated against the most dangerous strains of the virus.

While I was exceedingly grateful to the Mazzoni Center inoculating me, I knew of only one other male friend who’d received his shots. So since I got my shots, I’ve made a point of discussing my experience with any friend, acquaintance, or bemused bystander who will listen. And I’ve learned two things about young, straight men and HPV: We all know it exists, and not much else.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

Virgin Territory: Why the HPV Vaccine for Boys May Be a Tough Sell The HPV Vaccine For Boys May Be a Tough Sell

Controversy around the HPV vaccine has always been about policing sexuality. The CDC's latest move will be no exception.


The HPV vaccine, which is currently administered to preteen girls in order to prevent cervical cancer, is now recommended for boys, too. A CDC advisory committee voted unanimously yesterday that young boys receive the shots to prevent a range of diseases, including genital warts, anal cancer and possibly throat cancer. The vaccine would also help prevent their future sexual partners from contracting the virus that causes cervical cancer.

Sadly, these medical justifications are unlikely to quell the uproar that has surrounded the drug since its approval in 2006. When the FDA gave Gardasil the initial okay, the religious right decried the vaccine for promoting promiscuity. The Family Research Council's Bridget Maher said that young women "may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex." Leslee Unruh, president of the Abstinence Clearinghouse, said HPV is "100 percent preventable with proper sexual behavior. Premarital sex is dangerous, even deadly. Let's not encourage it by vaccinating 10-year-olds so they think they're safe." A Cincinnati mother worried, “We haven’t even talked about the birds and the bees yet. [My daughter] needs to be innocent a little bit longer.” Read between the lines: If we protect girls now against contracting diseases in the future, they'll think they're allowed to slut it up free of consequences.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

HPV: The STD of a New Generation

The proliferation of the HPV virus has complicated Americans' moral judgments surrounding sexual activity.


A brief American cultural history of sexually transmitted disease: The "Greatest Generation" faced propaganda posters warning sexually active patriots of syphilis and gonorrhea. In the '80s, Time magazine declared herpes the "new scarlet letter" for people having casual sex. Then the AIDS crisis hit, and in the '90s-defining film Reality Bites, even Janeane Garofalo's straight white girl agonized over the results of an HIV test. But as AIDS is increasingly coded culturally as a poor person's problem, the dominant conversation surrounding sexual health has focused on the human papillomavirus, the sexually transmitted infection that most people don't even know they have.

In recent years, the ways that HPV is transmitted, treated, and talked about has shone a light on America's developing cultural attitudes toward sex. HPV is not AIDS, and it can't even be our generation's red "A"—in many people, HPV has no symptoms. Instead, the spread of HPV among sexually active youth has quietly revolutionized our cultural script surrounding sexual stigma.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles