Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It's only fair

Having whinged and bitched and carried on at some length a mere three weeks ago about the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee's recommendation that the vaccine Gardasil not be subsidised, I'm thrilled to say I was completely wrong in most of what I said, and schoolgirls will be getting free vaccinations as from next year.

Many are cynical about the reasons for this, but frankly I do not care what they were. As long as we keep thinking in simple-minded binaries, we will never, ever get our heads out of the primeval slime, so I am not looking, just now, for angles that discredit the government. All power to whoever it was that got this fast-tracked, and if it was Howard, good on him, and if it was Abbott, good on him as well. I don't care who did it or what their motives were.

Never mind the means, look at the end. This will benefit everyone, and all the young daughters of all my friends -- Marina, Imogen, Marion, Flora, Phoebe, Sarah, Ellen and Ruth -- may all live longer than they would otherwise have done.

In memoriam JMCH, 1953-1999, whose eulogy I co-wrote six months after my mum's, and who might, if she had been born a few decades later or if this discovery had been made a few decades earlier -- as my dad pointed out on the phone today -- have lived to see the beautiful, principled, clever young woman that her daughter has become.


Dean said...

My understanding, only from newscasts, mind you, is that Gardasil does not work for women over the age of 29. Or 26. Something like that. There's a cut-off anyway, beyond which it is not effective. In any case, the authorities are still telling women to get pap smears done, regardless of whether they are injected with the drug or not.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I think you're right about the ages, which is why I have only made a roll-call of the friends' daughters who are in their early 20s or younger. I don't know whether the 'ineffectual' cutoff age is something biological or whether the reasoning is statistical -- that by then women will have been well and truly sexually active already for long enough to have bumped their chances of catching the papilloma virus up beyond the range where the vaccination is worth doing. But cervical cancer as a result of the papilloma virus, like skin cancer or lung cancer, can be decades in the making -- you can develop the cancer many years after you contracted the virus.

As for pap smears, yes of course. I hope there will be a campaign to publicise the fact that the one doesn't cancel out the other.

JahTeh said...

The pap smear is for other forms of cervical cancer. A scientist friend has been working on a test for finding one cancer cell not the clump that a pap smear needs. Need I say funding is always a problem and the most he's ever had wouldn't buy the back leg of a Melbourne Cup runner.

Melly` said...

Oh - I am so pleased. I had decided only early this week - dont wait for the damn pollies.. pay for it.

It saves me $460 times three... and what will it save our health system? (Ok - my motives for wanting it are purely selfish)

But it is wonderful news.