Wednesday, November 23, 2005

sex, cancer and viruses

This is why I love blogs. At the Norwegian meta blog last week the leap was made from publications on weblogs to oral cancer from sex in just one comment. I was impressed with the ability of bloggers to think about sex in all contexts.

Anyway. That made me google "sex cancer virus", and the top story was really disturbing. Now, this may look farfetched, but let me explain: there is a connection between cervical cancer and sex. The human papilloma virus can lead to changes in the cells of the cervix which again develops into cancer. This virus is transferred through sexual intercourse, but can develop very slowly and as the virus is very, very common everybody who have had sex can be carrying it. In most cases it goes away, like any cold or flu. Occasionally it lingers and causes cancer. The study referred to in bloggblogg was a version of this - the virus seems to cause oral cancer as well. This is of course a lot more tittilating, so that makes news.

The sexual practices of adult gay men are, to be frank, not more of my concern than the sexual practices of teenage girls. What shocked me was that there is a vaccine against this virus, but people argue against making it available to the public. Why? Because it may encourage teen-age sex.

Cancer is the big scare today, it is one of the few things for which there is no easy cure. Once it is established in the body it can spread, and your own body becomes your enemy. The imagery is close to horror story material: the alien growing in your body, killing you from within. This ought to keep teenagers morally sound: if social ostracation, economic concerns in the case of unwanted parenthood, physical aggression against abortion clinics and other delightful expressions of the drive to control teenage sex (or any non-conforming sex) was not enough. The way to maintain teenage morals is by refusing to make a vaccine that can save lives - including unborn, future lives - available.

I can't imagine what the insides of the heads of people who make that type of arguments look like. I don't want to know either. That is where the real cancer dwells.

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