HPV: Capitalist Virus

Incredibly, there’s a political movement which advocates preserving a system that makes it easier for biological viruses to attack the human species. That system is called capitalism. You’d think the basics of evolution would lead everyone to cooperation in order to maximize each other’s survival rate, upholding this above any political situation that might be in place, but no — capitalism is above everything. A favorite activity of this system is standing idle thus creating an arena for a bunch of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) to crop up in the population, all the while peddling various sexually repressive notions. Unless you’re rich, obviously, then you can do whatever you want and you’re safe.

One of the STDs which the capitalist system has been fostering an environment for is human papillomavirus (HPV). This is a big, bad, evil disease. In fact, it causes 100% of cervical cancer cases, among others. Cervical cancer affects only women, and kills 250,000 in the world a year (World Cancer Report 2014, WHO, 2014). HPV also causes cancers which affect and kill men. And there’s over a hundred types of it. Some are more dangerous, others are less. Here’s how one of the more dangerous could go: You have sex with someone who has it, then you have a higher risk to get several kinds of cancer and die. It’s so infectious that studies have shown it to be transmitted by almost every kind of sexual activity.

Now, there’s a vaccine for it. This vaccine is called Gardasil. The original version protected against 70% of HPV-caused cancers. A new version, Gardasil 9, protects against 90% of them. But in the U.S. the vaccine can cost $500. Actually, let’s correct that. Medical authorities have recently been saying that only two doses are needed, instead of the three that were previously recommended. So probably now the cost is about $360 to slightly over $400. Great, right? The capitalist masters say: your life expectancy is valued at a range between $360 and slightly over $400. For them, their profit is more important than anyone’s life quality. They’re already vaccinated, anyway.

There’s in fact a great HPV problem in the United States, which has much higher HPV rates than several European countries. About 45% of women aged 20 to 24 have it. It’s estimated that  80% of people who aren’t totally keeping away from sex for their whole life will get it in the U.S. Only 33% of teenagers are getting the two doses of the vaccine needed to protect from the worst types. (CDC) We’ve said HPV is so infectious. But you might not have got an idea of how bad it is yet. Have penis-in-vagina sex just one time with a person with HPV, and you have an approximately 40% to 50% chance to get it. The risk for getting HIV (which causes AIDS) would be an estimated 0.05% to 0.1% after having the same type of sex once with a person who has HIV. Note that HIV and HPV are completely different, despite the similar names, we’re referencing HIV for comparison to show how easy it is to get infected by HPV compared to other STDs.

A combination of poor sexual education, high vaccination prices, lack of testing and backwards religious ideas have led to the extremely high HPV danger in the U.S. – all of which capitalism is to blame for. The high prices haven’t been the only reason people haven’t been vaccinating. The religious right-wing, along with various reactionary sectors, have been spreading propaganda against it. They sprout their typical nonsense, such as “don’t vaccinate your child – they’ll have more sex and at an earlier age”. Various anti-vaccination organizations have also been spreading lies which claim the vaccine is killing people. In fact it’s been scientifically shown to be extremely safe. And of course, there’s the typical abstinence-only capitalist sexually-repressive logic: “just don’t have sex – or die”. Morbid.

We’ve mentioned low test rates. Let us explain that. There’s pap tests, which are recommended only for older women, could be described as invasive, and only check for cervical cancer instead of HPV. There is a test which checks for HPV. It’s a simple, non-invasive, quick DNA test. But it’s extremely expensive, almost nobody is aware it exists, it’s offered at almost no places, and almost nobody gets it. If you want to check for oral HPV, with DNA testing, for example, it would be quick and easy – you just spit somewhere, it takes less than one minute, and then they check your spit for signs of HPV. But capitalism has made HPV testing almost impossible for the average person – if they’re even aware of it. Of course, more testing, along with more vaccination would prevent the expansion of HPV.

In fact, STD testing in general is extremely expensive in capitalism. Take HIV, the STD which causes AIDS and is different from HPV. If you want to check for HIV, with a standard test you’ll need to wait up to three months since having sex to know whether you have it. There’s a HIV test, though, which can detect it a little over a week after having sex. But it costs over $150 in the U.S.

In communist society, all of this would change. There’s no socialist blueprint – but a few essential points are clear. For starters, we communists have nothing against sex, and we know that almost everyone is going to be having it all the time. Let’s make it safe for them. We’d have great sexual education, and we’d have it from the earliest ages. We’d tell people the scientific truth about everything. We’d tell people that there’s very safe types of sex with partners (such as hand-genital sex), and we’d tell them all about masturbation, how it’s totally safe and how there’s nothing wrong with it. There’s also nothing wrong with watching porn to get sexually aroused, nor with any type of consensual sexual activity. We’d also say how there’s nothing wrong with not having sex – just do whatever you feel like. So people having less risky types of sex, and having sex in more safe ways, would lower the STD rate. We’d also tell people another way to lower risk is to only have the more risky types of sex with a few trusted people which haven’t engaged in STD-risky behavior or have been tested not to have STDs. But we wouldn’t preach only having sex with one person as something that is supposedly a virtue – people can do whatever they want, and no choice is necessarily superior or inferior. All of this would be linked with our demand for the abolition of the family. And no doubt, we’d be smashing the institution of marriage. There will be no social recognition of it, it will be a private ritual.

We’d promote the vaccination of everyone for everything we have vaccines for, for free. And we’d promote people getting tested for STDs all the time – for free. The testing would be available in so many places that it’d be basically everywhere. We’d recommend people to get tested at regular intervals, and we’d be testing for as many STDs as possible in just one testing event, unlike the nightmare of capitalist healthcare in the U.S. which can have people running from place to place to get tested for different STDs, in a totally un-coordinated way, consulting and paying several businesses.

Of course, something like HPV would be strangled easily in communist society – compare capitalism’s statistics above to the almost total elimination we’d be responsible for. Straight away, the vaccination of everyone with even the vaccine that exists just now in capitalism, would prevent 90% of HPV-based cancers – and therefore prevent hundreds of thousands of deaths in the world. And we’d be testing people for HPV all the time, too – so it wouldn’t spread from one to another person. In our socialist society ruled by an economic plan based on rational principles instead of capitalism’s chaos and profit supremacy, we’d assign a great amount of resources on research, so that better vaccines would be developed, and then release them to the population. We’d totally destroy right-wing, religious, backwards anti-science, anti-vaccination views, and sexually-repressive views. That doesn’t mean we promote censoring anything. We don’t. People can say whatever they want and we’d come out on top anyway. Because we’re right.

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