We'd been on the road for almost two and a half hours. I was doing my best to keep the speedometer in between ninety-five and one hundred in the eighty kilometre zone. I was getting tired, and I had to pee. Knowing that Marmora was coming up in ten or fifteen minutes, I may have been subconsciously pushing it a bit. The road seemed nice and level, but it, too, may have been conspiring against me with an imperceptible downhill slope. And then my wife said what she said, and the rest is history.
You can see what's coming, can't you?
"HPV," she muttered.
"Hmmm?" I asked.
"Oh, nothing. This magazine article is saying something about Human, uh, Pamplimosa..."
"Human Papilloma Virus," I informed her. She raised her eyebrows. The question was clear: what did I know about Human Papilloma Virus? So I told her:
HPV is actually a group of similar viruses. There are over 100 variations. Approximately 30 of those variations have been shown by medical studies to cause or significantly contribute to the development of cervical cancer. Although both men and women can be infected by HPV, at this time researchers do not think that it is a precursor to cancer in men.
A couple of drug companies have developed vaccines that prevent the contraction of the strains of the virus most commonly associated with cervical cancer. The medical community would like to see those vaccines added to the roster of vaccinations currently given to preadolescent children. Incidences of cervical cancer have decreased by almost 75% over the last several decades, due to improved screening and treatment methods of the precancerous cells caused by HPV. The universal adoption of these vaccines could sound a virtual death knell for the disease.
Members of the religious right in the United States, however, have spoken out against the plan to universally inoculate our children against this disease. Why? Human Papilloma Virus, you see, is a sexually transmitted disease. The rationale, so I'm told, goes something like this. 'If we vaccinate our children against STDs, we are giving them tacit permission to be sexually active.' To that opinion, there is only one response:
First, we are talking about adding the HPV vaccine to the slate of inoculations that children generally receive at around eleven or twelve years old. It will be just one more needle. There is no need to announce to the child that they are being inoculated against an STD.
Second, there is absolutely no evidence that educating our children about how to protect themselves against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases increases their likelihood to engage in sexual activity. Conversely, there is no evidence that failing to educate our children on these matters decreases their likelihood to experiment with members of the opposite sex.
Third, why leave anything at all tacit? If you want your child to understand that you believe sex before marriage to be a bad thing, look them straight in the eyes and say, "sex before marriage is a bad thing, and here is why..." The way to negate any perceived tacit approval is to make the prohibition explicit.
There is another reason to support the use of the new HPV vaccines. A reason the right-wing loonies, with their biblical blinkers firmly in place, seem completely unable to comprehend. It is possible for a person to not sin, yet still contract a sexually transmitted disease. Consider the following scenario.
Woman is chaste and virtuous. Man? Well, not so much. Woman meets man. Man conceals his less than savoury past from woman. Woman falls in love with man. Man proposes to woman. Man and woman have a fairy-tale wedding and honeymoon in Nashville, Tenn. Woman, who was a virgin until her wedding night, submits to her husband, as all good Christian women should. Man transmits Human Papilloma Virus to woman. Several years later, a good, God fearing, Christian woman dies a slow, painful death from cervical cancer.
The story doesn't end there. A member of the religious right looks the man in the eye, and makes some kind of comment about divine justice. Hopefully, that member of the religious right walks away with two black eyes and a broken jaw.
It was at about this point in my rant that the approaching OPP officer lit up his cherries, flashed past, and pulledthe fastest U-turn I have ever seen in my life. I looked down at my speedometer, and said, "Oh...crap!"
So you see, judge, that's how a two minute discussion with my wife caused me to accelerate to thirty-eight kilometres over the posted, legal speed limit at just the wrong time, thereby causing me to receive a $285.00 speeding ticket. Please, be lenient.