HPV, or the Human Papillomavirus, can infect both women and men. It is a common STI virus that affects 25% of the U.S. population. Some strains of HPV can lead to oral, anal, and genital cancer.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the virus, but a vaccine could reduce the risk of getting infected. This vaccine is recommended for young people under 26 years old.
At this week’s conference in the Annual Meeting of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, doctors presented an alarming report. Doctors don’t offer boys the HPV vaccine as often as they give it to girls, even though it can reduce the cancer risk for them too.
With 45% men having HPV, they put at risk for cancer both themselves and their partners by not having received the vaccine.
Vaccination Completed for HPV for 56% Boys vs. 65% Girls
The report from this week’s meeting shows that there were more girls that completed the vaccination for HPV than boys, even though the vaccine has been available since 2006.
Why did fewer boys get the vaccine? There are a few reasonable answers. First of all, the FDA has approved the first HPV vaccine (Gardasil) in 2006. That year, the CDC recommended the vaccine to girls and young women, because their data showed a link between HPV and cervical cancer.
MD William Schaffner, who is a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center stated that this is why doctor focused on getting young women vaccinated.
Moreover, Schaffner added that the data on boys and HPV came later in 2011. Then, the CDC included boys and young men (11-26 year-olds) to the patient pool.
Cancer Immunology expert Ian Frazer agrees that the HPV vaccine works on both men and women. He said that “trials have shown that men respond just as well to the vaccine as women do.” Getting the HPV vaccine will protect them “against genital warts and they also get the same protection against the viruses that we associate with cancer,” added Ian Frazer.