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Nov 29 2008

A Vaccine for Boys to Help Girls?

Posted at 1:51 am under Research

A Vaccine for Boys to Help Girls?

As a parent of a school-age daughter, I haven’t decided what to think about the new cervical cancer vaccine. That’s why I was interested to learn the shot may soon be given to boys primarily to benefit girls.

Merck’s Gardasil vaccine is approved for use in girls and women, ages 9 to 26, to protect them against the human papillomavirus, or H.P.V., which causes cervical cancer. Girls can be vaccinated when they are as young as 9, although it’s recommended for 11- and 12-year-olds, before they are sexually active.

But as my colleague Jan Hoffman reported yesterday in the Sunday Style section of The Times, the vaccine could be approved by 2009 for boys as well. Although Gardasil also protects against genital warts, which are not life-threatening, the primary reason to extend approval to boys would be to prevent them from transmitting the virus to girls, thereby slowing the rates of cervical cancer. The concept is called “herd immunity.”

And the story raises the difficult question: Will parents of sons consent to a three-shot regimen that has been marketed as benefiting girls?

The story talks to parents who have mixed feelings about the idea, questioning whether they would subject their boys to a vaccine that ultimately wouldn’t benefit their son’s health. What would you do? Would you give your son a shot to lower a woman’s risk for contracting cervical cancer? Hypothetically, would you give your daughter a shot that could lower a man’s risk for prostate cancer?

source: NY Times

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “A Vaccine for Boys to Help Girls?”

  1. harryon 15 Jan 2009 at 8:39 am 1

    I don’t understand how you can say a HPV vaccine would not benfit a males health if it will help fight against contracting and spreading HPV…

    are males immune form oral cancer caused by HPV?
    are males immune to penile cancer caused by HPV?
    i dont think so!

    there is no question in my mind wether the vaccine should be for both genders.. i would say it is sexism in the highest to deny males of a vaccine when we lll know what damage this virus can do to both male and female bodies

  2. WarOnWartson 15 Jan 2009 at 2:17 pm 2

    The purpose of the HPV vaccine is to prevent cancer. The place in men where HPV poses the greatest risk for cancer is the anus. Men who have sex with men are at extremely high risk of developing perianal HPV, which can develop into carcinoma. It would be this group that would benefit most from vaccination.

  3. Billon 07 Aug 2009 at 3:14 am 3

    As a 25 year old male who has only had 2 female partners and 0 male partners but is dealing with a pre cancerous condition on my penis I find it nauseating that anyone would question the direct health benefits for heterosexual men. I’ve been circumcised since I was a baby and have no other illness that would compromise my immune system. The woman who gave this to me did not inform me that she had been diagnosed with high risk hpv (16/18) before we met, public discourse did not inform me that hpv can cause cancer in men, and medical professionals misdiagnosed my illness and repeatedly prescribed me corticosteroids and immunosuppresant creams that allowed the hpv to spread and infect more cells in my penis. I have been in pain for 3 years and will now be facing more pain and disfigurment through treatment that I really hope is successful. If it is successful and I once again have a normal looking penis, I will never have sex again as my morals instinctivly tell me not to place the importance of my libido over another persons right to live a happy and pain free life. YOU HAVE NOW BEEN INFORMED!

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