Or perhaps it is only the viruses that discriminate on the nonexistent basis of “race”:
[T]he HPV subtypes included in the existing two HPV vaccines — Gardasil, developed by Merck, and Cervarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline — are most common among white women but are significantly less common in non-white women. Within Hoyo’s trial, 65% of white women with HPV had the subtypes known as 16 or 18 , while only 36% of African-American women did. That means African-American women are only half as likely to get the type of HPV against which the vaccine works.
The findings highlight the complex role that race plays in medicine, especially as genetic studies reveal more biological reasons behind why racial and ethnic groups may have different propensities for disease, and respond in varying ways to drugs. “We don’t like to admit that race and ethnicity count, but they certainly do in the distribution of infectious diseases,” says Dr. Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania. “Not to sound like a dope, but when [race] matters it matters.”
HPV infection is hardly the first disease to be linked to race. Tay-Sach’s is more common in Ashkenazi Jews, sickle-cell anemia is found mostly in Mediterranean or African populations, and cystic fibrosis has a higher incidence among people with Irish or English ethnicity. But all of those conditions are driven by genetic mutations that can be detected through testing. What makes the HPV findings trickier is the fact that the vaccine is designed to protect women before they become infected, and there is no way to tell which strains a woman will get — except, as Hoyo’s findings suggest, by her race.
That suggests that medical predictions should be based on some type of racial profiling; is it ethical to recommend different vaccines for different women based on race?
It’s fascinating that the magical belief in the nonexistence of something that is materially and scientifically observable appears to be on the verge of being elevated to an ethical principle that trumps medical science.
We already know that this magical belief trumps statistical correlation. But it is remarkable to observe that some of those who otherwise claim to value science uber alles should reveal themselves to have elevated their fixed ideas on human genetic and cultural sameness to a state of ethical priority.
Of course, this is very dangerous ground for the equalitarians. Once one admits that different racial and ethnic groups not only exist, but have different propensities for disease, it becomes considerably harder to deny that both logic and history dictate that different human population groups have different propensities for things like crime and building, maintaining, and participating in advanced civilizations.