HPV vaccine for men: A maybe becomes a yes
© 2011 Roy Benaroch, MD
I wrote last year about the pros and cons of vaccination against HPV, or human papilloma virus. At the time, I thought the evidence was clear that the vaccine was a very good idea for girls, but I was more lukewarm on whether the evidence was as supportive for boys.
Since last year, several good studies have been published that have provided additional support for this vaccine for teens of both genders. Here’s just a few:
- An Australian study documenting the near-disappearance of genital warts in young men and women after vaccination became widespread (Similar results were found in New Zealand.)
- A study of over 600,000 vaccine doses showed essentially no serious adverse events
- Proof of the effectiveness of preventing HPV-associated cancers in men
(If you’d like to see the full, extensive range of publications about this vaccine or other topics, visit the US National Library of Medicine’s free PubMed search engine.)
After reviewing the new evidence, an advisory board to the CDC suggested that HPV vaccination now be recommended for all children at age 11-12. This replaces the 2009 recommendation that the vaccine be routinely given only to girls. It’s expected that this new recommendation, once endorsed formally by the CDC, will dramatically reduce the overall disease burden, including HPV-associated cancers totaling 18,000 a year in women and 7,000 a year in men. In addition, routinely vaccinating boys should help reduce overall disease transmission.
I’m happy to change my mind when new and better evidence appears. In this case, it’s good to know that as more studies are done, support for HPV vaccine’s safety and effectiveness has grown. It looks like this vaccine is a winner. Protect your kids, and make sure they get the vaccine instead of HPV.