Sexual Health news - Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Researchers review whether HPV vaccine is necessary for males

Since scientists developed the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, a debate has been going on over who should receive it and at what age. It was originally marketed for young women who had yet to engage in sexual activity. Now, not only are healthcare providers recommending it for preteen girls, but for boys as well.

In a review published in the journal Viral Immunology, the authors discuss whether it is necessary for young males to receive the HPV vaccine and if it's cost-effective. Researchers from the University of Southern California, David Geffen School of Medicine and Georgetown University School of Medicine analyzed and reviewed current medical literature that looked at the vaccine, and wrote up their final recommendations.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. among both males and females, and it currently affects approximately 20 million individuals between the ages of 15 and 49, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It can cause genital warts, and in some cases, certain cancers, including cervical and throat tumors. Therefore, administering the vaccine to both genders could potentially decrease transmission even further.

"The authors have dissected the public health, social, ethical, marketing and economic implications of including of males in HPV vaccination programs," said David Woodland, Ph.D., editor-in-chief of Viral Immunology. "The data reviewed in this superb paper will be of considerable interest for public health professionals, vaccine researchers and physicians alike."

Currently, there are two HPV vaccines on the market - Gardasil and Cervarix. Both protect against most cervical cancers, and Gardasil also prevents common strains of genital warts and other cancers of the anus, vagina and vulva, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

One reason why healthcare providers and the CDC are recommending the HPV vaccine for boys is because of a rise in throat cancer cases, which are linked to the virus.