February 5th, 2007

planet

HPV Part II

Well, after all the comments about my post re: HVP vaccine yesterday I decided to just get the damn thing, so I called my insurance company to confirm that they'd cover my last shot (which I'll get when I'm 27) and guess what? My doctor recommended the vaccine to me because I'm 26 or younger, my insurance company thinks it's under 26. So they won't pay for it. I can use my HSA account for it, which is my money but it's pre-tax, so I might do that.

But I wanted to write about a different subject: you should not dismiss a vaccine like this just because you're in a monogamous relationship. I was just going to reply to some comments, but figured I'd post a whole thing about it. I've never had this idea the monogamy=no fear of STDs, probably after reading all these stories about how AIDS in africa spread so rapidly because no one felt the need to teach married women about condoms, or empower them to make their husbands use them. Yes, being monogamous reduces your chances of STDs, but it's not perfect.

Some reasons to get vaccinated even if you're monogamous:

1) There's a chance that the person you're with now might not be your last sexual partner ever. You could break up. They could die. You could be raped. None of us like to think like this, especially the married ones of us, but it's out there, might as well get the vaccine now so you don't have to worry about it later.

2) The person you're with now could have HPV, not know it, and still not have passed it on to you. Certain strains have no symptoms. I learned from my doctor today that a clean pap doesn't even mean you're HPV-free, having HPV can cause changes in cells that will show up on your pap, a pap smear itself is not a test for HPV. So don't use the "well I've been healthy so far" method to test your partner's status.

3) The person you're with now could cheat on you. Oh yes, you're totally sure that they love only you, let me ask this: does it really mean anything to the relationship that you're willing to put your health at risk to demonstrate faith in it? Marc and I talk about these kinds of things all the time, he totally wants me to get the vaccine. If he told me that he felt threatened by the idea, then I'd tell him to hit the damn road; there's no way I would have a relationship with a man who wants me to make him feel loved by putting myself at risk for cancer. When you wear your seat belt, it doesn't mean you're planning to crash. The risks of not getting the vaccine far outweigh the benefits of not getting it.

Other things I've learned about the vaccine since I posted my last entry:

- The "I use condoms" excuse is pretty much shot to hell, condoms are designed to prevent diseases that are spread through fluids, HPV is spread through skin-skin contact: http://www.healthandhpv.com/condoms.htm

- The "it's new" excuse (this is what I was originally going with) isn't much better either - Results from the first studies of this vaccine were reported four years ago, so even though we're just hearing about it, it's been in the works for a while and has been tested on 11,000 women.

- The "I don't have insurance" excuse... well, this could be valid. The vaccine starts at $360... my doctor told me $600, I might call around for estimates :) But a lot of insurance companies are covering it, so make some calls.

So anyway, I don't want to sound like a crazy gardasil salesperson but if your doctor recommends that you get the HPV vaccine, get it! And my rant about monogamous relationships applies to a lot of other things, not just this vaccine issue, maybe that's why I felt so ranty. It doesn't matter if you are 150% confident that you and your partner are monogamous now and forever, you should still get a regular pelvic exam, pap smear, all that. Because there's not really a reason to skip it, people, seriously.