HPV Vaccine for Boys
Jackie Agenbroad is a women’s health nurse practitioner at The Women’s Center at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix. Her office can be reached at (602) 839-4915.
Question: I know the HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and women, but I recently read that I should get my sons vaccinated too. Why?
Answer: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted disease. It is known to cause genital warts as well as certain types of cancer, including cervical cancer and cancers of the vulva and vagina. Since 2006, the quadrivalent HPV vaccine, which covers four types of HPV, has been available for use among females between the ages of 9 and 26 to help prevent cancer. However, the vaccine is now being recommended for boys as well.
In addition to causing cervical, vulva and vaginal cancer in women, HPV can cause cancer in men such as cancers of the anus, throat and mouth. To help prevent such cancer and minimize spreading of the HPV virus to female partners, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice now recommends the HPV vaccine be given to boys ages 11 and 12.
In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also approved the quadrivalent vaccine for prevention of anal cancer and advised that boys as young as nine routinely receive the vaccine. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the vaccine be given to females between the ages of 9 and 26, it stops short of making the same recommendation for males. However, the CDC does state that the vaccine can be given to boys between 9 and 26 if the patent/legal guardian and health care provider decide it is right for the patient.
Countering a comment made in a recent political debate, the CDC says there is no evidence that the HPV vaccine causes “mental retardation.” The quadrivalent vaccine that has been available since 2006 was reviewed in 2009 by the CDC and the FDA. Both agencies determined it is a safe and effective vaccine and that its benefits outweigh its risks.
As always, parents have the final say when it comes to their child’s health. I suggest that you consult your pediatrician and/or family medicine provider to determine whether the HPV vaccine is right for your sons.