Gardasil, the vaccine for HPV prevention, prevention for a virus that could induce cervical cancer in women who have contracted the virus, has caused adverse effects for thousands of girls. The National Vaccine Information center has reported that 5 girls died, 31 girls had life threatening side effects, and 1,385 girls had to visit the emergency room.
This is for a vaccine that may prevent HPV infections but is not always successful. Still the question is how many cases of HPV these vaccines will prevent and further, how many cases of cervical cancer contractions and fatalities would be prevented. I'm not going to seek out and crunch these numbers except to say that the numbers above are not necessarily condemning alone if the benefits outweigh the risks.
There are other issues with this treatment. While some local and national governments consider making this vaccine freely available, there is the matter of cost. The series of vaccines all together cost $360.
If we were to vaccinate every girl in the
So we have two approaches to prevention here, one that carries some potential for physical harm and the other that not only carries no such physical risks, but also offers many benefits beyond mere disease prevention since teens who practice abstinence are emotionally healthier and academically better off than teens who don’t.
But of course, abstinence does have a risk. The risk is free will and responsibility. Not all who are taught to be responsible will be responsible, especially in a culture that praises rebellion like ours. Furthermore, while the debate continues on during a time when abstinence education programs are dominant, some teens will trust the licentious entertainment media and their friends for norms rather than educators and the message that the dominant entertainment culture promotes can be the easiest to hear when amplified by hormones.
Here it is most helpful when parents take it upon themselves to be the most important influence on their children. For this, there must be a balance of love, respect, and discipline and not only that, for many children, parents have to be informed about this to the degree that their word will not easily be undermined. Further, there should be an emphasis not on the negative aspect of sexuality, that it should merely be avoided, but there should be an emphasis on the meaning of sexuality itself. Sexuality for Christians is sacred and the bonding between man and woman uniquely reflects the image of the triune God himself as we read in Genesis 1, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”