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Vaccinating boys against human papillomavirus not cost-effective
Date:10/8/2009

Boston, MA -- Persistent infection with high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus, is known to be a cause of cervical cancer. Current guidelines prioritize HPV vaccination of pre-adolescent girls, which has been shown to be cost-effective in previous studies, but the value of vaccinating boys in the United States has been unclear. In a new study, Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers found that if vaccine coverage and efficacy are high in girls, a universal recommendation to vaccinate young boys is unlikely to provide comparatively good value for resources, compared with vaccinating girls only.

The study appears online October 9, 2009, in The British Medical Journal and will appear in a later print edition.

The HPV vaccine for boys is already licensed in a number of countries and is currently being considered by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"With the near-term possibility of the HPV vaccine being available to boys in the U.S., policymakers will need to decide whether or not to recommend vaccinating boys," said Jane Kim, assistant professor of health decision science and lead author of the study. "To inform these deliberations, both the incremental health benefits that would accrue with vaccination of boys and girls and the economic costs of the program should be compared to those associated with vaccination of girls alone."

Motivated to inform current decision making, Kim and co-author Sue Goldie, professor of health decision science, evaluated the most current epidemiological, clinical and economic data on HPV infections and cervical disease. Because the most important health benefits (e.g., prevention of cervical cancer) from adolescent HPV vaccination will not be observed for years, and possibly decades, they used computer-based disease models to simulate the course of HPV-related diseases in the U.S. population over time. The analysis looked at the vacci
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Contact: Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-3952
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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