Gentlemen, get HPV vaccines for the ladies

by John Anderson

Chivalry is dead. No longer do women wait for men to throw their coats on muddy puddles. No longer does society demand they rely on men for a standard of living, or for protection. Women are more in control of their lives than ever before. Unfortunately, there are many areas of life that remain very unequal. In terms of reproductive health and sex, women have much more to worry about, but men can help.

The human papillomavirus has long been a concern for women because of its devastating role in creating cervical cancer. Once the leading cause of cancer deaths in women, regular pap tests to screen for the deadly disease have drastically dropped the incidence rate throughout the last 40 years. The development of an HPV vaccine, Gardasil, was another major step in preventing cervical cancer. Most doctors agree with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that women should seek vaccination against HPV. For men — though the virus can, in some cases, cause anal and neck cancer — the risks of HPV are minimal, and thus no recommendation for widespread vaccination has been made. This has led to the majority of males ignoring the vaccine because HPV is a “woman’s disease.”

Recent studies by the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute estimate that close to 50 percent of American males have at least one strain of HPV. The high prevalence of the disease in males has prompted health researchers to encourage men to get the HPV vaccine, for both personal health and to protect their partners.

Already having HPV does not excuse you from getting vaccinated. There are almost a hundred strains of HPV, and Gardasil can protect against the strains you may not have — the serious ones that cause cancer and genital warts.

Let’s be honest, genital warts aren’t visually appealing. I am very confident that a quick Google image search for “genital warts” will quickly shock into silence anyone who objects to the vaccination into silence. While many men show no symptoms of HPV, when outbreaks do occur, researchers note that men have a harder time than women in clearing them. Such an outbreak may be a deal-breaker for many women; the potential damage to one’s “game” is terrifying. The warts alone are reason enough for me to get the shot.

On a more moralistic point, while chivalry may be dead, men still have a duty to do all they can to protect fellow humans from life-threatening illnesses. While many men may never experience negative ramifications from their HPV infection, it poses a serious risk to women — particularly those who haven’t received the HPV vaccine themselves. San Diego State Student Health Services assures us that side effects from the shot are akin to what you can expect from a flu shot: a bit of irritation around the injection site – not exactly earth-shattering. This may be one of the easiest opportunities to be a hero you will ever come across.

One major sticking point in Gardasil vaccinations is the cost. SHS offers the vaccination for all students, but does not cover it financially. Health insurance may take care of it; you just have to call to find out. If not, Gardasil runs around $131 per shot and there are three given during a six month period. SHS noted that many students will qualify for assistance in paying for the vaccine. Unfortu-

nately, if your insurance hangs you out to dry and you don’t qualify for assistance, the cost will come out of pocket. I know $393 to protect your sexual partner(s) from cancer is a heavy cross to bear, but imagine giving someone cervical cancer because you were too cheap to fork out a bit of cash.

Ultimately, the decision to vaccinate yourself comes down to a very common sense rationale. Why not? It may be a bit expensive, but the benefits of protecting yourself and your sexual partner(s) from a cancer-causing infection surely outweigh the cost. Call your insurance agency, bring a stress ball if you’re afraid of needles and don’t look at it. Just man up and get vaccinated.

— John Anderson is a international security and conflict resolution senior.

— The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.

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