Who Can Be “One Less”?

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It’s a little shocking to see television ads for the new vaccine against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus. References to human sexuality have been frowned upon for so long that seeing young, healthy, all-American girls promoting a vaccine against an STD is a bit of a shocker. In a good way.

The ads follow Merck’s recent release of a vaccine against HPV. The virus is easy to catch, even with condom use, and is a major risk factor for cervical cancer. But the ads don’t mention that the vaccine costs $360, and that low-income women face the greatest threat of cervical cancer because they don’t get regular Pap smears. (Cervical cancer is very treatable if caught early.)

As states debate making vaccination against HPV mandatory for public school students, former Mother Joneser Ann Friedman, now at the American Prospect, makes the point that funding should accompany any vaccine requirements.

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