DHHS: Does this lie make me look stupid?

July 11, 2012
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There is pounding in my temples, my back muscles are in a spasm, and I might even be turning green and busting out of my clothes. What caused all this? This innocent-looking tweet from the Department of Health and Human Services:

There is pounding in my temples, my back muscles are in a spasm, and I might even be turning green and busting out of my clothes. What caused all this? This innocent-looking tweet from the Department of Health and Human Services:

 
I had to do a double take. My blood started to boil almost immediately. But I persisted, clicked on the link, and saw this:

 

The first sentence really says “The best way to prevent cervical cancer is to get regular Pap tests.” Jaw, meet floor. What does the word “prevent” really mean? I went to The Free Dictionary for enlightenment:

 
 

Just as I had suspected: to avert, to keep from happening. And how does a Pap test keep the cancer away? It finds “abnormal cells before they turn into cancer.” And where do abnormal cells come from? God, right? Well, no, they are mostly associated with an HPV infection, which comes from exposing yourself to unprotected sexual intercourse, usually with someone whose HPV status you don’t know. You see where I am going with this? The message here is that there is nothing more effective at preventing cervical cancer than having a Pap test to detect early changes and lop out the misbehaving piece of your cervix. Are they serious? Is this really the “best way”? Let’s examine the meaning of “best”:

   
I guess beauty (and value) are in the eye of the beholder. Does subjecting yourself to a surgical procedure that may leave your cervix unable to help your uterus to maintain a pregnancy qualify as “surpassing all others in excellence” or as “most desirable”? Not in my book, not when a little advanced planning and a nickel for a condom could could keep that horse from leaving the barn in the first place. True prevention does not take place in a doctor’s office, and it is a mistake to equate screening to prevention.

Come on, DHHS, who writes your stuff? Fire them! You are risking your credibility. What’s next? “Bulimia is the best way to prevent obesity”?