US has “ongoing, severe epidemic” of STDs – biggest problem is HPV

The religious right (also known as the Republican Party) has an obsession with sex, but time after time, their preference for ignorance creates a dangerous environment for everyone else. Instead of focusing on what works – sex education – they insist on running from the seriousness, and truth, of the issue.

Getting serious about sex not only is better for the lives of millions of people, it also saves money. How is it that these two issues are so controversial for the religious right? It’s not that radical to let science instead of religion lead public policy, but for the radical right, they prefer living in the Dark Ages.

Recently we’ve seen the GOP once again attack science, most recently, in Missouri, but there was also Marco Rubio’s bizarre announcement that nobody knows the true age of the earth (except they do). They’re offensive and no better than the religious extremists that they claim to hate so much, like the Taliban.

The price of ignorance is not pretty.  The big problem, NBC reports, is HPV:

Science via Shutterstock

Science via Shutterstock

The “epidemic” Satterwhite speaks of, he said, is driven almost entirely by two bugs: HPV, and chlamydia. Chlamydia, a bacterial infection, is easily curable if it’s diagnosed. And there’s a very effective vaccine for the most dangerous forms of HPV that can trigger cervical, oral, anal, and penile cancers, and cause genital warts.

But, Golden argued, “we have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory” by not pursuing effective strategies, such as school-based universal access to the HPV vaccine.

Only about 35 percent of American girls age 13-17 had received the complete course of HPV vaccine as of 2011, according to the CDC. The rate among boys was about 28 percent. In comparison, Australia’s National HPV Vaccination Program provides the vaccine to girls at age 12 and 13 through their schools. As a result, 72 percent of girls have received a complete vaccine by age 15. (Boys were added to the program this year.)

Satterwhite’s study estimated 14.1 million new HPV infections during 2008 and a prevalence of 79.1 million, making it the most common STI by far. While the majority of HPV infections are cleared by the body’s immune system, some are not.

NOTE FROM JOHN: I got my HPV shots last year.  I asked a doctor I know and trust, who is well informed on the vaccine, if it was still worth it at my age, and he said yes.  So I got it.  They’re not cheap.  And my insurance at least doesn’t cover them, not sure if it’s covered for women.  I believe it was like $180 a shot, and you have to get 3 shots over 6 months.  But then again, $500 versus a shot at cancer, I was willing to scrape up the money.  Still, it’s amazing to look at the difference between our inoculation percentages and Australia’s.

An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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