Five years ago, the CDC (Centre for Disease Control) made the controversial decision to endorse and recommend a vaccine for all girls to prevent infection with the Human Papilloma Virus or HPV. Now, the agency is extending the recommendation to boys, aged 11 to 13 with a one-time ‘catch up’ injection between 13 and 22.
The vaccine protects against four different strains of HPV, considered the most commonly sexually transmitted disease in the United States. HPV is responsible for causing genital warts, as well as the more serious cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, and oropharyngeal cancers.
“We estimate 11,000 HPV-associated cervical cancers and 4,000 HPV-associated anal cancers each year for men and women”
– Lauri Markowitz, Epidemiologist and Member of CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
The vaccine has not yet been widely adopted – mostly due to resistance to vaccinating pre-teens against a disease spread by sexual activity. Markowitz points out that when boys are vaccinated, their female partners are protected as well.