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HPV vaccine for boys

HPV VACCINE NOW RECOMMENDED FOR BOYS AS WELL AS GIRLS

The CDC recently recommended, and the Doctors at Pediatric Associates all recommend the HPV vaccine for all girls and boys ages 11 or 12, and through age 21, who have not already received all three doses. We have been administering the vaccine for the past 6 years to adolescent girls with much success. The vaccine is safe for all individuals through age 26, but it is most effective when given at younger ages.

Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus. Most sexually active people in the U.S. will have HPV at some time in their lives. There are more than 40 types of HPV that are passed on through sexual contact (vaginal, anal and oral). These types can infect the genital areas of men and women, including the skin on and around the vagina, areas around the opening of the vagina, penis or anus. They can also infect the mouth and throat.  Since HPV usually causes no symptoms, most men and women can get HPV—and pass it on—without realizing it. People can have HPV even if years have passed since they had sex. Even individuals with only one lifetime sex partner can get HPV.Most people who get HPV never develop any symptoms or health problems. But some types of HPV can cause genital warts. Other types can cause cancers of the cervix, vagina, areas around the vagina, penis, anus, or throat.

How common are problems related to HPV?

  • About 1% of sexually active individuals in the U.S. have genital warts at any one time. Genital warts are not a life-threatening disease, but they can cause emotional stress and their treatment can be very uncomfortable
  • Every year, about 15,000 women are diagnosed with HPV-related cancers and 4,000 women die from this disease in the U.S.
  • Cancers of the penis, anus and throat are relatively uncommon, but each year in the U.S. there are about:
    • 400 men who get HPV-related cancer of the penis
    • 1,500 men who get HPV-related cancer of the anus
    • 5,600 men who get cancers of the back of throat (many of these cancers are related to tobacco and alcohol use but a significant percentage may be due to HPV.)

The HPV vaccine (Gardasil) works by preventing four common HPV types, two that cause most genital warts and two that cause cancers, including anal cancer. It protects against new HPV infections; it does not cure existing HPV infections or disease (like genital warts).  According to Dr. Nicolais, “it is a money in the bank situation.  We know 12 years old seems very young to most parents but once a young person is exposed, it’s too late.  We need to protect them before they are exposed.”  It is most effective when given before a person’s first sexual contact.  Although cancers are more common in women, it is important that both boys and girls receive the vaccine if we hope to prevent cancer in men and women.  As Dr. Leavitt mentions to his adolescent male patients, “Do you really want to give cancer to your future wife?”

Will insurance cover the vaccine?  Only your individual insurance carrier can tell you for sure, but New York State does require insurers, with only some very limited exceptions, to cover recommended vaccines, so for most insured people the vaccine will be covered.  Individuals covered through Medicaid, or Medicaid managed care plans are covered.

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