Art dodgers

Letters to the Boston editor, October 9, 2009
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  October 7, 2009

David S. Bernstein points out some key facts about who voted for Michael Flaherty in “Can Flaherty Woo Yoon?”, but he neglects to mention that, if Sam Yoon had won, he would need the base that voted for Flaherty, and he would also need to woo Flaherty’s support to win the mayor’s seat.

Interestingly, Bernstein, and by extension the Phoenix, failed to report that Flaherty is the only candidate running for a Boston office who has a comprehensive artists-centric creative-economy initiative. Yoon, who it is often pointed out is a musician and a progressive, never had such a plan.

The creative economy is a progressive idea. The Phoenix — the mainstay of which is arts and culture — claims to be a progressive paper, yet it overlooked this important fact. The “New Boston” and a progressive Boston needs arts, culture, and the creative economy. This is a story in and of itself the Phoenix should have covered.

Kathleen Bitetti
Matt L. Barron

Give it a shot
We are clinicians at a small community health center in downtown Boston. We counsel, educate, and regularly test, diagnose, and treat young people on issues ranging from pregnancy and reproductive health to sexually transmitted infection (STI), HIV, and HPV.

We applaud Lisa Spinelli for having the courage to share her experience, and wish her the best of health. Unfortunately, Ms. Spinelli shortchanges the importance of the Gardasil vaccine in preventing HPV infection and cervical cancer, and, by doing so, does a disservice to her female readers.

Gardasil has been shown to be 100 percent effective in preventing cervical cancers and 98.9 percent effective in preventing external genital warts caused by the four targeted virus subtypes if given before the start of sexual activity.

The fears Ms. Spinelli raises concerning “seizure-like activity” with Gardasil injections merely underscores a not-uncommon reaction to all vaccines: vaso-vagal syncope, or “fainting,” which occurs when pain from the injection leads to a brief drop in blood pressure. When that occurs, people faint and frequently have a short period of unconscious and uncontrolled movement of their arms and legs. Ms. Spinelli makes a logical faux-pas to jump from “seizure-like activity” to “the vaccine can cause seizures.” In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association article of August 19, 2009, that Ms. Spinelli mentions does not list seizures among the common reported post-vaccination events collected by a nationwide reporting system. That article does report that fainting seems to be more common with the HPV vaccine than with other vaccines, however.

We encourage more people to discuss their concerns about HPV, but hope that we can support a conversation that is less alarmed and fearful than Ms. Spinelli’s effort.

Greg Fenton, MD
Karla Hoxha, NP
Rachel A. Oppenheimer, Family Planner
Ralph Vetters, MD, MS
Beth-Ann Witkowski, RN
Sidney Borum Jr. Community Health Center

Related: Losing common ground, Review: Fig Trees, Living with HPV, More more >
  Topics: Letters , Politics, Letters to the Boston editor, HPV,  More more >
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