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HPV Vaccine for Boys? It Just Might Happen
Date:6/14/2008

The virus that causes cervical cancer also leads to throat cancer in males

SATURDAY, June 14 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of all people will have a sexually transmitted disease or infection at some point in their life, the American Social Health Association reports.

One of the least noticeable, but potentially most life-threatening infections, is the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

Most HPV carriers are never diagnosed and never realize they carry the virus.

"It's never detected, they are never aware of it, and their immune system suppresses it before they ever know about it in the vast majority of cases," said Fred Wyand, spokesman for the American Social Health Association.

In this way, HPV is a silent killer. It's the leading cause of cervical cancer and has become the second-leading cause of cancer death for women around the globe.

Doctors have responded to the threat of HPV by fighting it in a way unusual among sexually transmitted diseases -- through a vaccine. The vaccine, Gardasil, is proven to prevent infection from four particularly dangerous strains of HPV in women. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that 11- and 12-year-old girls begin receiving the vaccine as part of school vaccination efforts.

Now researchers are looking into whether the vaccine should be given to boys as well, both to prevent the transmission of HPV, and to prevent the rarer, but no less deadly, cancers that can occur in men from the virus.

"There is probably no reason to think it would not be effective in boys, and because HPV is passed back and forth, immunizing a large part of the population would limit transmission," said Dr. Jonathan L. Temte, associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

"However, we're still very early in the life span of this vaccine. It's been
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