Require all girls to get HPV vaccine
I applaud the governor of Texas for signing into law a mandate for all 11- and 12-year-old girls to receive the new vaccine to prevent cervical cancer ("Texas governor orders anti-cancer shots," Feb. 3).
I appreciate the efforts of state Sens. Delores G. Kelley and Lisa A. Gladden to sponsor similar legislation in Maryland, and am disappointed their bill was withdrawn ("Bill to require vaccination of girls is pulled," Jan. 31).
Cervical cancer and genital warts are sexually transmitted and caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).
This virus cannot be prevented with safe-sex practices and may be acquired with a minimal number of sexual partners and sexual exposures.
This virus, with its many strains, is now present in 60 percent to 70 percent of young women and men. Screening women for the virus and encouraging Pap tests will reduce cervical cancer but will not prevent genital warts or the precancerous cervical cells that the human papilloma virus causes.
I hope new legislation will be introduced in the next Assembly session to make this new and vital vaccine mandatory.
In the meantime, I am keeping my office refrigerator stocked with the vaccine, and counseling and dispensing it to all of my eligible patients.
I am confident that in the near future, sixth-grade girls and boys will be inoculated, and we will have made a major inroad in eradicating cervical cancer and genital warts.
Our children deserve no less.
Dr. Ellen L. Taylor
The writer is chief of the department of gynecology at the Northwest Hospital Center.
Make it available for women, too
While much of the national discussion on the cervical cancer vaccine is focused on girls ages 9 to 12, the key to realizing the full potential of this scientific advancement is providing access to those who need it most - women ("Drug firm pushes vaccine mandate," Jan. 29).
Widespread access to cervical cancer vaccines and the reduction of cervical cancer could save the U.S. health care system up to $6 billion every year in screening and treatment costs.
The key is ensuring that all women have access to comprehensive cervical cancer prevention tools.
The public and private sectors must work together to implement insurance reimbursement programs and legislation that will allow us to fully realize the potential of the cervical cancer vaccines.
We must not let the opportunity to save women from a now-preventable disease slip away.
John M. Clymer
The writer is president of the Partnership for Prevention.
Blinkered president has become the fool
The intelligence assessment of the situation in Iraq reminded me of the reasons that autocratic kings of long ago, surrounded by fawning sycophants, wisely retained court jesters ("Analysis of Iraq's future gets bleaker," Feb. 3).
While commonly called fools, the task of these wise men was to reveal the folly of the ruler's intentions before they could have serious consequences.
Our president followed the advice of a small, fawning coterie and isolated himself from constructive criticism of statesmen and of citizens in open forums. By doing that, he has become the fool.
Find mortgage deal to save the Senator
I was very unhappy to read about the possible auction of the Senator Theatre ("Historic Senator Theatre to be sold at auction," Feb. 6).
What is particularly disturbing is that 1st Mariner Bank, which holds the mortgage on the theater, has always been an extremely active advocate for the city of Baltimore and its proud heritage.
The Senator is certainly part of that proud heritage. Although $90,000 is quite a bit of money, it is not an exorbitant sum for an institution such as 1st Mariner Bank.
I sincerely hope 1st Mariner will be willing to work out a creative arrangement with owner Tom Kiefaber on the mortgage.
Historic theater needs new backers
I read with sadness of the possible demise of the historic Senator Theatre ("Historic Senator Theatre to be sold at auction," Feb. 6). I've seen many movies there and enjoyed taking my kids to this grand theater.
It's unfortunate that owner Tom Kiefaber hasn't been able to put the theater on a sound financial footing.
While I appreciate everything the city and others have done in support of the theater, I wonder why those movie producers and actors who tout Baltimore as a great city (Barry Levinson, John Waters, Edward Norton, etc.) haven't stepped up to preserve this landmark.
It seems to me that the Maryland Film Office or the Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts should also have an interest in saving the theater.
I hope an auction will put the theater into the hands of someone with big dreams and deep pockets to continue showing movies and restore it to its original charm.
Rick J. Kiegel
Need for restraint a treatment failure
I am writing in response to two articles in the Maryland section Friday: "Restraint called common at school" (Feb. 2) and "Disabled center's closure debated" (Feb. 2).
Although it might not be immediately apparent, these alarming articles have something in common.
They are about practices that over the years have been widely accepted as "necessary" for the treatment of our citizens with cognitive, physical or emotional disabilities - restraint and segregation.
I want to be sure all Marylanders understand that this is a harmful and scary myth. The continual use of restraint is not treatment; it is the failure of treatment.
The use of restraint over and over is not OK and should never be accepted as common.
Everyone deserves to be supported in ways that do not risk safety or take away rights.
Positive, community-based treatment works.
Twelve states in this country have closed all state-run institutions for the disabled.
The time has come for Maryland to do the same thing.
The writer is a program manager for Leaders in Disability Policy.
Why not withdraw Annapolis diplomas?
Anne Arundel County schools Superintendent Kevin Maxwell should have gone further in his reorganization of Annapolis High School ("School staff told to reapply for jobs," Jan. 25).
If, indeed, the courses did not provide the knowledge and skills required to improve the average yearly scores, the courses should be decertified, and any credit - and, consequently, diplomas - should be withdrawn. Failure to do this exposes the treatment of those teachers and administrators as a political ploy.
The writer is a teacher in the Prince George's County public schools.