The HPV Vaccine is the Most Underused Immunization for Children

HPV Vaccine (Fearless Parent)

HPV Vaccine (Fearless Parent)

Once they’re born, children receive a range of vaccinations against seemingly every possible disease. But one vaccination has been severely under-used: the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), HPV is the “most common sexually transmitted infection (STI).” The virus affects 14M+ people every year, and will affect almost everyone who is sexually active at some point in their lives. HPV causes 90% of cervical cancers, and other cancers associated with orifices used during sexual activity (think vagina, anus, etc.).

A 2014 study done by researchers at Harvard Medical School and the University of North Carolina (UNC) showed that a “sizable minority” of doctors recommended the vaccine “inconsistently, behind schedule or without urgency.”

Here’s what that translates to numerically:

As of 2014, only 40 percent of girls and 21 percent of boys ages 13 to 17 had received all three doses of the HPV vaccine, whereas 88 percent of boys and girls had been vaccinated against tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis and 79 percent had gotten the meningococcal vaccine.

But why aren’t children getting this vaccination? One reason is that doctors may be reluctant to talk about sexual activity with children, even if it’s future sexual activity. The vaccination does not rank high on the list of children’s immunizations, and isn’t required in many states. There also has not been a public health scare to drive home the importance of this immunization to parents.

The virus was only approved in 2006, and can be cost-prohibitive: the three-shot series can run up to $1K.

Children, both girls and boys, should receive the vaccination around ages 11-12. Boys can get catch-up vaccines until they’re 21, and girls can do the same until they’re 26. But the vaccine has proven less effective when given during the later years.

Saudi Women Win 20 Seats in Elections

Saudi Woman voting (Haaretz)

Saudi woman voting (Haaretz)

In Saudi Arabia, women have now gained a step towards equality: holding office.

In the recent elections held on Dec. 12 of last year, 20 women were elected to municipal seats. They comprise almost 10% of the 2.1K seats available. These seats were the only ones Saudi citizens vote for.

This was the first time women were allowed to vote in municipal elections. The most recent elections were held in 2005 and 2011.

Women were allowed to campaign for seats, albeit in a limited manner. They were not allowed to give out material that showed their faces (though this applied to both men and women), and could not speak to male audiences directly. (A candidate would have to speak from behind a partition or enlist a male relative to speak for her.) Women comprised 979 out of 7K candidates, or nearly 14%.

Around 130K+ women registered to vote, with the voting age being 21. There are 12.2M+ total women, and election officials estimated around 5M women would be eligible to vote. The country’s total population is around 30M.

This speaks to some good progress being made, and I hope there’s more on the horizon. This could happen: Before King Abdullah died, he decreed in 2013 that the Consultive Council, an appointed body that advises the king, be made up of 20% women.

How Does Marijuana Affect Sex?

Medical marijuana grows, May 15, 2013, at the River Rock Medical Marijuana Center's natural light cultivation site in Denver. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Medical marijuana grows, May 15, 2013, at the River Rock Medical Marijuana Center’s natural light cultivation site in Denver. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Happy Friday! Some people have strong stances on whether or not they enjoy having sex while on marijuana or not. This makes sense anecdotally, but what do the numbers say?

Well, the data is split too. In the studies done on how marijuana affects sex (and there aren’t many), respondents are split on whether the drug enhances, inhibits or doesn’t affect fornication at all.

Studies have been done in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s, and in Canada during the last decade five years apart. The first study centered on hormone suppression by way of the drug, but failed to find any results. The 1980s study found that most respondents found using marijuana enhanced sex, though for other it had an adverse or negative effect on the act. Both of the two Canadian studies found that using marijuana enhanced sex for around half, or just over, the respondents.

More research is needed, especially since each of these studies had minuscule sample sizes (sample sizes have thus far ranged from 41 to 104 subjects) and so cannot be projected to the general population. We also don’t know the methodology used to find these results.