This is comedy? She's got a wart virus with serious complications...
Whoops! Scratch that. Lena Dunham, the uberkind writer/director/star of HBO's controversial series, "Girls" may or may not be infected with Human Papilloma Virus, specifically the strains that cause genital warts and the majority of cervical cancers. Her character on "Girls," Hannah Horvath, actually received that diagnosis in the third episode of the first season. Our mistake is understandable, given that Dunham has traditionally established little distance from the characters she plays. In her feature film, "Tiny Furniture," Dunham's character is in conflict with her mother and sister, who are portrayed in the flick by her actual mother and sister. This authenticity is found when Horvath is blindsided by her HPV diagnosis. She had only had protected sex with her current ne'er-do-well partner and he falsely claimed he had been tested for HPV and was clean. Her previous boyfriend reveals the true medical info: HPV can be spread even with condom use. The virus can effect the skin of the abdomen or the base of the shaft, areas not covered by latex condoms. Also, men and women may harbor the virus without showing visible warts. Finally, that there is no current test that a male can undergo to show that he is not infected. While most women with HPV infections become immune to that strain and do not necessarily progress to cervical cancer, there was a significant fact that was left out of the narrative: A safe and effective vaccine for HPV of the groin has been available for males and females for years. If the show's recent college grads had not undergone the 3 injections, they would have at least been aware of the process. Of the 2 vaccines available in the US, Gardasil covers 4 HPV strains that contribute to the majority of cases of genital warts and cervical cancer development, plus have been implicated in cases of penile cancer, anal cancer and throat cancer. Perhaps these quirky characters will chat about the vaccine on a later episode. Viewers needn't wait to consider the vaccine themselves, however. It has been approved by the FDA for males and females ages 9-25.