Panel: Boys should get HPV vaccine given to girls

ATLANTA (AP) — A vaccine against cervical cancer hasn't been all that popular for girls. It may be even a harder sell for boys now that it's been recommended for them too.

A government advisory panel on Tuesday decided that the vaccine should also be given to boys, in part to help prevent the cancer-causing virus through sex.

Public health officials have tried since 2006 to get parents to have their daughters vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which causes most of the cervical cancer in women.

They have had limited success, hitting a number of hurdles. Some parents distrust the safety of vaccines, especially newer products. Others don't want to think about their daughters having sex one day, or worry that the vaccine essentially promotes promiscuous behavior.

Tuesday's vote by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices' was the first to strongly recommend routine vaccination for boys since the vaccine was first approved for them two years ago. Officials acknowledged the low rate in girls encouraged them to take a new, hard look.

Experts say a key benefit of routinely vaccinating boys could be preventing the spread of the virus to others through sex — making up somewhat for the disappointing vaccination rate in girls. But the recommendation is being framed as an important new measure against cancer in males.

"Today is another milestone in the nation's battle against cancer," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention administrator who oversees the agency's immunization programs.

Federal health officials usually adopt the panel's recommendations and ask doctors and patients to follow them.

The vaccine has been advised for girls since 2006. Just 49 percent of adolescent girls have gotten at least the first of the three HPV shots. Only a third had gotten all three doses by last year.

"Pretty terrible," Schuchat said.

Schuchat attributed the low rates for girls to confusion or misunderstanding by parents that they can wait until their daughter becomes sexually active. It works best if the shots are given before a girl or boy begins having sex.

Some conservatives argue the vaccine could promote promiscuous behavior. It has come up in the GOP presidential campaign. Texas Gov. Rick Perry came under attack for a 2007 executive order requiring adolescent girls to get the vaccine (with an opt-out clause). When conservative lawmakers rebelled, he backed down.

An estimated 75 to 80 percent of men and women are infected with HPV during their life, but most don't develop symptoms or get sick, according to the CDC. Some infections lead to genital warts, cervical cancer and other cancers, including of the head and neck.

The HPV vaccine is approved for use in males and females ages 9 to 26; it is usually given to 11- and 12-year olds when they get other vaccines. The committee also recommended that males 13 to 21 years get vaccinated.

Tuesday's vote follows recent studies that show the vaccine prevents anal cancer in males, and may work against a type of throat cancer. A study that focused on gay men found it to be 75 percent effective against anal cancer.

While anal cancer has been increasing, it's still fairly rare. Only about 7,000 U.S. cases in men each year are tied to the strains targeted in the HPV vaccine. In contrast, about 15,000 vaccine-preventable cervical cancers in women occur annually.

Preventing a cancer that's primarily associated with gay men may not be much of a selling point, said Dr. Ranit Mishori, a family practice doctor in Washington, D.C. and an assistant professor at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Some parents may say "'Why are you vaccinating my son against anal cancer? He's not gay! He's not ever going to be gay!' I can see that will come up," said Mishori, who supports the panel's recommendation.

Schuchat indicated the CDC is ready for that kind of argument: "There's no data suggesting that offering a vaccine against HPV will change people's subsequent sexual behavior," she said.

So far, the threat of genital warts hasn't been persuasive: Some data suggest that less than 1.5 percent of adolescent males have gotten the vaccine over the past two years.

Meanwhile, some feel it's unlikely that most parents will agree to get their sons vaccinated primarily to protect girls. A survey of 600 pediatricians last year found that nearly 70 percent of doctors thought families would deem vaccination of their boys as unnecessary.

Experts at the committee meeting noted an earlier analysis that showed vaccinating boys would not be cost-effective if the female vaccination were high.

"If you do reach high coverage of females, will you stop vaccinating males?" asked Dr. David Salisbury, director immunization for the United Kingdom's Department of Health.

There are two vaccines against HPV, but Tuesday's vote applies only to Merck & Co.'s Gardasil, which costs $130 a dose. The other vaccine wasn't tested for males.

The committee's recommendation — and the greater insurance coverage of the vaccine that is expected to follow — will make it easier for more boys to get the shots, said Dr. Mark Feinberg, chief public health and science officer for Merck Vaccines.

Merck officials bristled at the idea that males would see the vaccine as mainly meant for gay men, noting that HPV-caused anal cancers can occur in heterosexual men.

Maura Robbins of Chicago said she's likely to have her 12-year-old son, Cole, vaccinated against HPV — but probably not until he's a little older. "I would just like to see some long-term testing and long-term results," she said.

___

AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner in Chicago contributed to this report.

___

Online:

HPV info: http://www.cdc.gov/hpv/

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel
    Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel

    The $150,000 pearl-studded, custom-made Calvin Klein dress worn by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o at this year's Academy Awards has been stolen, police said on Thursday. The gown, embellished with 6,000 natural white pearls, was stolen from Nyong'o's room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, during the day on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood said. "Ms Nyong'o was not in the room at the time of the theft," Deputy John Mitchell …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

  • Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts
    Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants seized more Christians from their homes in northeastern Syria in the past three days, bringing the total number abducted by the extremist group to over 220, activists said Thursday. …

  • 3 Pinays on Forbes power women list
    3 Pinays on Forbes power women list

    Three Filipina executives, who are all daughters of known business tycoons in the country, made it to Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments and chairman of BDO Universal Bank, was included in the list for the fourth year in a row since its inception. “Under her (Sy-Coson) lead SMIC became the largest listed company on the Philippine Stock Exchange by market cap. Also in the 2015 list is 70-year-old Helen Yuchengco-Dee, …

  • 13 of 15 SAF survivors to leave PNP hospital
    13 of 15 SAF survivors to leave PNP hospital

    Thirteen of the 15 Special Action Force (SAF) policemen who survived the bloody firefight with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano last month are ready to go home after a month of medical treatment, a police official said yesterday. Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said the two remaining survivors will have to stay in hospital for further treatment, one of whom has shrapnel embedded near his spine. One of the two SAF commando survivors is still …

  • US sends spy plane to patrol disputed sea
    US sends spy plane to patrol disputed sea

    The United States has deployed its newest and most advanced surveillance aircraft for patrols over the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. The P-8A Poseidon aircraft completed more than 180 flight hours from Feb. 1 to 21 from Clark Air Base, according to the US Navy’s 7th Fleet. …

  • Review: SKK Mobile V2, a P3,999 watered-down LG G2
    Review: SKK Mobile V2, a P3,999 watered-down LG G2

    How well does this P3,999 offering from an underdog in the local mobile industry stack up against the competition? Let's find out. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options