Boys aged 11 and 12 years should be routinely vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) to protect them against anal cancer and cancers of the mouth and throat that are associated with sexually transmitted HPV infection, an advisory panel to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended today.
“Today is another milestone in the national battle against cancer,” said Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, of the recommendation by the agency’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
The ACIP recommendation calls for all boys aged 11 and 12 years to receive 3 doses of the quadrivalent HPV vaccine, Gardasil. In addition, it advises vaccinating males aged 13 to 21 years who have not already been vaccinated. The vaccine also can be offered to men up through age 26 and to boys as young as age 9, the committee said.
Ideally, the CDC says, individuals should be vaccinated before they become sexually active and exposed to the virus. Gardasil provides protection against new infections caused by 4 common types of HPV, 2 that cause genital warts and 2 that cause cancers; it does not cure existing HPV infection. The vaccine is expensive, costing between $100 and $130 for each dose.
Vaccinating boys against HPV is also intended to help protect girls and women by reducing transmission of HPV. Since 2006, the CDC has recommended HPV vaccination for girls and women to protect against several HPV-associated cancers, including cervical cancer. But reluctance by parents and some physicians to offer HPV vaccination means the percentage of girls and women who have been immunized against the virus remains very low.
Since 2009, the ACIP has stated that HPV vaccination was permissible for young men, but recent clinical study results showing associations between HPV and certain cancers in men prompted the advisory group to strengthen its recommendations. “The idea that we could prevent cancer was really motivating much of the ACIP’s thinking,” Schuchat said.
Schuchat noted that the CDC usually accepts ACIP recommendations.