The human papilloma virus (HPV) is widely known to affect women as the leading cause of cervical cancer. While cervical cancer cases have declined, risks such as oral and anal cancers in men are on the rise.
HPV vaccines for men are just four years into being approved, but a recent study from the Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) showed that low-income and minority parents were receptive to vaccinating young boys. The study also found that a lack of information about the vaccine’s efficiency and safety contributed to less parents getting it for their children The Huffington Post reported.
A Mercury News article revealed that the death rate for oral cancer is three times higher than that of cervical cancer as they account for 78.2 percent of HPV related diseases. The vaccine, Gardasil, which is FDA-approved for men and women, defends against HPV cancer causing strains 18 and 16. Cervarix protects against the same two strains, but is not licensed for men.
“The very low rate at which boys are vaccinated is a result of the inability of the manufacturers and doctors to speak openly and with factual evidence about oral cancer in a context that parents will understand,” says Brian Hill, president of the Oral Cancer Foundation, who was present at the National Institute of Health meeting where the aid was requested. “Vaccination is not just about cervical cancers but cancers their sons will potentially get in the future.”
The cost of vaccination is typically free or low cost for those under 26 and is most effective to someone who’s least likely to have already been exposed. Once the HPV strain is contracted, the vaccine will not be effective.
Read more on boys and HPV prevention on MercuryNews.com
BMWK — What are your thoughts on young boys receiving HPV vaccinations? What steps are you taking to make sure your children are protected against the disease?