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Smart talk, April 8

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There was a senator from Arkansas ...

Stuart Jay Silverman of Hot Springs has passed along a group of limericks making fun of certain politicians, mostly Republicans. Some of the limericks are a bit naughty, and therefore unsuited to Arkansas Times readers, but here's a non-naughty sample:

“Sarah Palin — well, what can one say
When her faults are on public display?
That she's stupid? A start.
Has pack ice for a heart?
And the kick of a mule, and its bray?”

Arkansas readers might be most interested in the last of the group, titled “Renegades: A Coda”:

“Mark Pryor — though not on the ballot:
One whack on the head with a mallet.
I believe one will do
For Blanche Lincoln, too.
Then, bundle them off on a pallet.”


Thank God for Mississippi

A recent study by the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York has found that only 22 percent of Arkansas girls aged 13-17 have received the vaccine for Human Papilloma Virus, which can cause cervical cancer. Published in the most recent issue of the medical journal The Lancet, the study also found that only 16 percent of Mississippi girls in that age group had received the shots.

In some northern states like Rhode Island, where 55 percent of teen-age girls have received HPV vaccine since it was introduced in 2006, rates of cervical cancer are half of what they are in Arkansas.

According to the Centers of Disease Control, HPV causes 70 percent of all cervical cancers. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2007 found that around 27 percent of women are carriers of HPV, making it the most widespread venereal disease. The same study found that around 2 percent carried the strain that causes cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine is not a cure, but can protect a woman from contracting the disease if it is administered before she becomes sexually active.

One factor in Arkansas's low use may well be the cost. The HPV vaccine costs $120 a dose, and three doses (along with three doctor visits) are required over six months for full immunity. Another, no doubt, is the attitude in conservative Arkansas that teens won't have sex if you don't give them protective drugs.

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