Sexually Transmitted Disease Bill In California Won't Require Parental Consent For Vaccines

California minors seeking sexually transmitted disease vaccinations may be able to do so without parental consent if Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill now on his desk.

"I don't think we should be playing Russian roulette with kids' lives," Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, the San Diego Democrat who wrote the bill, told The Associated Press. The Centers for Disease Control "monitors those numbers nationally," she said. "We have clear evidence of a growing problem with young people under age of 18 — HIV and AIDS in young people as young as 14. That should alarm us."

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the leading cause of cervical cancer, and the AP reported it caused 400 deaths in California in 2008. The available HPV vaccines, which are Merck's Gardasil and GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix, are most effective if given before someone becomes sexually active. If the bill becomes law, minors could also receive vaccines that help prevent HIV soon after the patient is exposed.

Brown has not signaled whether or not he will sign the bill, for which the signing deadline is Oct. 9. Currently, children as young as 12 can seek diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, but cannot receive vaccinations without parental concent.

Atkins told the AP that the bill, supported by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Health Officers Association, and Planned Parenthood, updates state law to allow teens to seek treatments that have recently become available. Opponents, which include anti-abortion groups and religious leaders, claim the bill violates parents' rights. "That's a decision that ought to be made between parents and their child," said Sen. Ted Gaines, a Republican.
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