HPV: Is it Really Worth the Shot?1,063 views
Ever since I got that phone call asking me to write an article for this week’s issue, I found myself stumbling on thoughts trying to figure out the most precise and accurate words for me to tell you whether or not you should opt to get vaccinated for cervical cancer.
After all, this is a serious issue that needs to be scientifically handled and very well articulated but then I thought to myself you know what, no. I won’t bore you with all the lame medical terms that a simple Google search button can help you with where you can find countless amounts of articles that are being regularly reorganized, restructured, rationalized and simplified to inform you on the pros and cons of the several forms of the vaccine and the correspondent types of the HPV virus that they cover.
However, what I felt like sharing with you came out of a very personal experience that occurred to me a couple of weeks ago when my friend and I found ourselves trying to explain to my mother the many challenges that she and I encounter when trying to advocate for its use, seeing that both my friend and I are affiliated to the medical field.
While our arguments shaped themselves out of an exceptionally scientific perspective and health awareness angle, a particular point in my friend’s argumentation shed the light on something that I had outrageously forgotten about. In her plea, my friend claimed that a girl/woman should get vaccinated because in many cases non-empowered women do not dare ask their husbands-to-be on their past sexual conducts add on that urging them to get vaccinated themselves. Therefore she recommends women to get vaccinated in order to protect themselves from this particular virus that could place them at risk. While mom was nodding in acknowledgment I sat in disbelief.
I just could not believe that this vaccine was yet another weapon serving to victimize us women and sinking us into thinking that submission to ignorance is a-ok as long as we are “protected”. Personally one of the reasons why I got vaccinated was because I saw this as a tool that would help me put armor on what societies view as “fragile bodies” and was consequently for me a tiny step into emancipation. A liberation that our culture tends to suppress given the negligible publicity efforts that raise awareness and advocate for the use of this vaccine, as opposed to the many billboards and ads raising awareness for breast cancer. This lack of advertisement is the reason why young women rely on peer to peer education as a source of information.
Dimming the light on this particular prophylactic places us women, all women, from all categories at risk. I for one refuse for health workers to tell me that my breasts are much more important than my uterus. Both forms of cancer are dangerous and can lead to death, yes. Both when promptly depicted can be treated, yes. However one can be prevented but is associated with sexual conduct and therefore isn’t accepted. While the other deals with aesthetics- and therefore gains more sympathy.
Whether we opt to get vaccinated or not, it is time for us as Lesbian, Straight, Queer, Bisexual and Trans women to take control over our bodies and to be curious enough to get familiar with ourselves inside out.
PS: it is important to discuss this matter with your physician. Remember also that vaccinated women still require regular Pap smears if they have been sexually active. For more information on HPV, visit this website.
- Contributed by Koi-Fish