As Bob Dylan once sang, "The Times They Are a Changing."

As if we don't have enough to worry about lately between buying $4 per gallon gas and holding onto our mortgages, I read in the paper recently that HIV diagnoses are up 32 percent in Utah.

That is a staggering concern. It made me decide to write about another highly avoidable health risk my friend Carole Burr suggested I address.

Her daughter, Lara, has an LDS bishop, also her children's pediatrician, who is adamant about young girls receiving the series of Gardasil or Cervarix vaccinations that prevent cervical cancer. He believes it should be a must in the church and, of course, everywhere else.

When counseling with her one day his direct words to her were, "I don't care if a girl is entering a convent, each girl should have this vaccination. This is a vaccination that actually saves lives and prevents cancer."

Her daughter Lara's pediatrician, Dr. John Carruth, who practices in South Orange County, Calif., and a former LDS bishop, is very clear about the importance of this immunization for every young girl.

The recommended age is from 9 to 30, but for him the younger the better because not too much explanation has to be given when they are young; it just becomes one of their series like other vaccinations.

In a conversation with my OBGYN, Dr. Scott Jacob, the pediatrician was given a strong second.

Scott added, "In today's world, this is clearly a more important vaccine than polio or measles."

According to Wikipedia.com, HPV (human papillomaviruse) "are a diverse group of DNA-based viruses that infect the skin and mucous membranes of humans." They are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact and are responsible for genital warts.

Others can result in precancerous lesions caused by a sub-clinical infection. The most insidious one is an STD that is transferred from the man who has no symptoms and can develop into cervical cancer in the wife or partner or victim years after they have been exposed. Even with condom use there is not a 100 percent guarantee of safety.

Reading this you may be thinking, "Oh, that could never happen — we teach moral responsibility in our home."

Well, according to Carole, who has been a friend and mentor to hundreds of people both in the LDS Church and in the community, it can and does happen.

Young people, who have a sense of being invincible, are operating with a brain that doesn't fully develop until they are 25 or older. They are bombarded constantly through the media with misinformation and sexually explicit images. They have the same hormones as everyone else, and all it takes is one experience with the wrong person.

Another reality is there are so many second marriages. Women are marrying men with past experience and men are marrying women with past experience, and with the LDS doctrine of repentance and acceptance, these marriages are not discouraged but welcomed.

Carole tells of a friend who died from cervical cancer because her new husband had an undisclosed relationship after his divorce. We do not always know people or some of the choices they have made in their lives. The vaccine could be a wise safety measure.

I think Bob Dylan is kind of weird, but this particular song rings true when he sings:

"Come mothers and fathers all over this land

And don't criticize what you can't understand

Your sons and your daughter are beyond your command

Your old role is rapidly aging

Please get out of the new one if you can't lend a hand."

In other words, as a parent, do not be an ostrich and bury your head about things swirling around your children's lives.

The last time I saw a beloved aunt of mine I hugged her tight and we shared some tears together. She then stood before me hairless but smiling, and much too confident she would beat the cervical cancer raging within her. I doubt it was caused by HPV, but I can tell you dying of cervical cancer is not a pretty business, and she did die.

Whether you take the medical advice or not, this is a topic and a choice to ponder seriously.


E-mail: sasyoung2@aol.com