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Since HPV is the only known cause of cervical cancer, pharmaceutical giants have done something to address it. This is no small thing. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women.

In recent years, a vaccination which protects a sexually active young woman against 4 of about 100 strains of HPV is not only available but there’s a lot of pressure to get it. While two of the strains the vaccine protects against are responsible for about 70% of cervical cancer. Two of the strains the vaccine does not confront are responsible for the remainder of cancer cases. So, it does not provide guaranteed protection. At the same time, abstinence does. A woman who is not sexually active will never acquire HPV.

I haven’t been quick to get on board, but I have been careful to explain all the risks to both of my girls. You have to make the decision with for yourself—talking with your parents if you’re under the age of 18—after a lot of prayer and research. A major concern that I have is that the vaccine has only been tested for four years before release, so we have no long-term outcomes concerning risk. And, there have been unusual side effects ranging from fainting to muscle weakness to death that cannot be prove to be related to the vaccine, but those who experienced them are begging for further investigation.

The only no-risk method of protection against HPV is abstinence, followed by faithfulness in a life-time mutually monogamous marriage relationship. No matter what you decide about the vaccine, make sure you understand the powerful vaccinating impact of the decision to abstain until marriage.

-Adapted from And the Bride Wore White, Chapter 2, Revised Edition, 2012