Should Boys Get the HPV Vaccine?

Plus, restaurant health inspection grades and the stigma of alcoholism

Last year, the HPV vaccine Gardasil was approved for use in boys. It has been available to girls since 2006. In addition to preventing symptoms like genital warts, it may also protect women from developing cervical cancer.

On the Ten- to Fourteen-Year-Olds boards, Catherine, aka mom2dylan99, wondered if she should get the vaccine for her son, who is entering sixth grade in the fall.

Though I am not a mom, this issue strikes close to home, because I have HPV. The majority of people do at some point in their lives. But in most of these cases, the virus goes away on its own. Not so for me. I have to get a PAP smear every six months because mine has been rearing its ugly head for more than two years. This increases my risk of cervical cancer and it increases the risk that, if I’ve passed it on to him, my fiancé will develop penile, mouth or throat cancer. You can use your imagination on how it might spread there. What vexes me most is that there is no standard HPV test for men. So while I’m getting regular screenings, I have no idea how my fiancé has been affected. If there had been an HPV vaccine available before we became sexually active, we wouldn’t have to worry about this. Because I’m not a doctor, I stop short of telling parents they should unequivocally get their kids vaccinated, because it’s up to them to weigh the benefits and the risks. But when I have kids, you can guarantee that they will be getting inoculated against HPV. Why wouldn’t I want to lower their risk of cancer,and save them the stress that I have to go through?

Unfortunately, as alygator points out, most insurance companies are not covering it for boys—yet. So, it’s up to you to determine if your son can wait, which could mean having a conversation with him about his likelihood of becoming sexually active.

What do you think about the HPV vaccine—and will you be getting it for your son or daughter? Talk about it on the boards.

In the news this week, USA Today asked the question, should restaurants make health inspection grades visible?

“Here in SC they are posted on every restaurant door so it never occurred to me they weren't in every state,” says cmamy on the Food message boards, which generated a long discussion about whether a poor grade would keep people from eating at a particular establishment. The overwhelming response: not necessarily.

“I would read the detail to see why they scored low before deciding to leave. Cleaner storage and mislabeled water faucets wouldn't bother me like rodent droppings would,” says cl-tracywithtwo.

Caraleas agrees. “A lot of the things that kitchens get called on are things like undated food in the freezer, [not wearing] hats and hairnets, not changing gloves when they should, hot/cold holding temps in the danger zone, a hand-washing sink out of soap—stuff that is probably temporary, that just happened to be out of compliance when the inspector visited,” she says.

While I agree that some inspection violations aren’t worth avoiding a restaurant over, a lot of the things caraleas mentions probably would make me choose another dining establishment—because I definitely don’t want to be eating there the night they have no hand soap. As a business, it’s their job not to run out. And it’s not that I’m a germaphobe. It’s that I’ve actually experienced what can happen when a restaurant gets lazy. I, and several other students, contracted salmonella from our college dining hall. Since the Department of Health couldn’t track it to a specific food—we all had eaten different things—the likelier cause was that someone doing prep work at several stations did not properly wash their hands after using the toilet. Maybe they had just been out of soap that one time, or maybe the food server was lazy. Either way, I wound up on an IV and out of commission for three weeks.

Of course, that said, when New York starts posting restaurants grades come July, like everyone else, I’m not sure I’ll stop frequenting my favorite places if they get a bad grade, but it might keep me from visiting someplace new and untested.

How do you feel about restaurant inspection grades?

On the Alcohol, Addictions and Recovery board this week, sn0white, who’s been sober for 15 months, wonders how discreet she should be about her recovery—and whether anonymity might even contribute to the stigma of alcoholism. “There are certainly occasions when—and people with whom—my alcoholism should not be addressed. But I'm starting to believe that I should be more willing to share my experiences with more people,” she says.

The stigma of addiction is similar to that of many other mental illnesses. Case in point: every time someone learns that my friend is a recovered alcoholic, they say the same thing, “I never would have guessed he’s an alcoholic.” Why? Because when most people think of an alcoholic or addict, they think of someone who’s angry or sad or just plain messed up.

Before I met my friend, I had similar ideas of what an alcoholic looked like: a depressed, broken-down person with demons he would never be rid of. Through this person, I have probably met over 100 alcoholics. And guess what? As stupid as this is to say, because it’s just so obvious, they are just like those of us without drinking problems. In fact, many people I’ve met who are actively involved in AA are much more well-adjusted, open and honest with themselves than my non-alcoholic friends, because they’ve had to come to terms with their personal issues—and who among us has none?—in order to lead a happy and sober life. While I think that anything kept secret instantly becomes salacious, weird and dark, I don’t have a solution. Many people who are open about their struggles often face serious discrimination.

“There are a lot of professions that would either find a way to get rid of the alcoholic, recovery or no recovery, just because of the possible backlash from customers, clients, patients, etc.” says cl-swt16mentally. While she was careful about disclosing her status at work, now that she’s retired, cl-swt16mentally is much more comfortable talking about the disease.

“Once I trust someone or develop a relationship with someone, I openly share what and who I am. I am very proud of the fact that I have overcome drinking every day to live—it is a huge accomplishment,” says missy2.

What’s your impression of alcoholism and addiction? Talk about it on the boards or join chime in below.

Like This? Read These:
- Should McDonald's Be Sued Over Happy Meal Toys?
- Despite the Cancer Risk, Most of Us Still Don't Cover Up
- How Lisa Rinna Kicked Her Sex Drive into High Gear

 

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