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U.S. Health Officials Back HPV Vaccine for Boys
Date:10/25/2011

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 25 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. health authorities on Tuesday recommended that young males be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus that causes most cervical cancers, as well as anal cancer and some cancers of the throat and mouth.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday morning that its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has approved "recommendations for routine vaccination of males 11 or 12 years old with three doses of HPV4 (vaccine)" to shield against the virus.

At this point the recommendation is limited to Gardasil, made by Merck. Another HPV vaccine, GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix, is not yet included in the advisory.

"The vaccination could begin as young as age 9, and boys and young men 13 to 21 years of age who hadn't received the vaccine should also be vaccinated," Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the U.S. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said in an afternoon press briefing.

The current level of use of the HPV vaccine among girls is "disappointing," Schuchat noted, and since the virus is passed via sexual conduct, "there is the potential that vaccinating boys will reduce the spread of HPV from males to females and reduce some of the HPV burden women suffer from."

An HPV vaccine has been available since 2006, but until now the CDC had only recommended inoculation for females between the ages of 9 and 26 to limit their risk of cervical cancer.

According to Schuchat, the new recommendations were based on the effectiveness of the vaccine in males. She noted that while the numbers of cervical cancers has been decreasing, head and neck cancer and anal cancers -- which affect both genders -- have been on the rise.

One expert agreed with the CDC panel that vaccinating boys should help prevent cancers in both genders.

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