Muse Magazine

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

LIFE: What’s on our collective conscious

When I was in middle school, I had a classmate who clearly needed a stronger eyeglass prescription. She constantly struggled to see our teacher’s ginormous chalk letters on the blackboard. Whenever my friends and I would point this out, she’d always respond, “I don’t need science, I’m praying for God to make my eyesight better.” Now I believed (and still do) in the power of the creator, but her opinion struck me as frighteningly close-minded. I thought about her recently when I came across a few facts in a recent New Yorker article about how the Bush Administration is approaching H.I.V. and HPV, two viruses that affect women in disproportionate numbers.

-over 50% of Americans contract the human papillomavirus (HPV)
-the leading cause of cervical cancer, HPV kills roughly 5,000 women every year
-December 1, 2005, a pharmaceutical company applied for a license to sell an effective HPV vaccine that if administered to young girls before they become sexually active, would protect them from infection
-the Bush Administration and his allies of the religious right opposed the HPV vaccine. Why? Because they believe the vaccine would promote promiscuity
-a similar mentality could hinder an HIV vaccine should one be developed. “We would have to look at that closely. With any vaccine for H.I.V., disinhibition would certainly be a factor and it is something we will have to pay attention to with a great deal of care,” says one-time medical adviser to the organization Focus on Family, Reginald Finger.
-under the Bush Administration, one third of the budget for H.I.V. prevention must bo to abstinence-only programs.
-Several years ago, the Centers for Disease Control removed a fact sheet about condoms from its Web site and replaced it with a release about why they’re not very affective. The statement remained there for over a year.
-In 2004, the Department of Health and Human services forbade medical researchers to attend international conferences without its approval, this included meetings held by the World Health Organization.
-That same year, the government said that it needed to save money and reduced the number of doctors and researchers who could go to the International AIDS Conference. A total of 150 medical researchers had to stay home.

Think about all of that the next time you go to the doctor, or the poll booth for that matter.



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