Posted October 14, 2009 at 12:00 am
I grew up knowing all the facts about STDs. Before they became STIs, the most common STDs identified by my high school and middle school counselors were gonorrhea, chlamydia and genital herpes. HIV was a risk, too, as well as pubic lice (crabs), syphilis and even hepatitis C (all awareness made possible by celebrities Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee). Condom use for everything including hand jobs and oral sex was the only way to prevent these diseases when engaging in genital contact. Many diseases could be treated, but all could be prevented. STD testing was of course encouraged. Not once did I hear of any vaccinations or the mention of the phrase “human papillomavirus.”
Then all of a sudden, ads for Gardasil, a vaccine that prevents certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), began replacing ads for birth control pills like Yaz or Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo on the pages of my teen magazines (yes, I still read those). Instead of girls running through fields of well-arranged and color-coded hormone pills, mothers and daughters proclaimed the risk of cervical cancer between blue and burgundy borders.