Vaccination of Boys Critical in HPV Prevention

Posted by Admin on November 1, 2013
Improving rates of vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) in boys aged 11 to 21 is critical to protecting both men and women. This is according to new research from the University of Toronto. HPV has been found to be associated with anal, penile, and certain variants of throat cancers in men. Since the virus is also responsible for various cancers in women, vaccinating boys will play a critical role in lowering cancer rates in both genders.

For the study, lead author, Professor Peter Newman and team gathered data from 16 separate studies involving over 5,000 individuals to evaluate rates of HPV vaccine acceptability and determine what factors are involved in selecting which boys should receive the vaccine.

New vaccinations often have difficulty gathering momentum amongst the populations they were designed to aid. The problem can be further compounded by a lack of information, misinformation, and even conspiracy theories regarding the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Newman claims that unfounded vaccine fears and misinformation can result in cancer deaths that could have been prevented with a single vaccination.

Logistical barriers can also block the acceptance and distribution of new vaccines. Basic obstacles like out-of-pocket cost, transportation to the clinic, and wait times for receiving the vaccine can also contribute to low rates of vaccination.

However, the single largest factor impacting male HPV vaccination rates has been the lack of evidence linking HPV in men to a life-threatening disease. The association between HPV and cervical cancer in women is responsible for a rise in the vaccine’s popularity among younger women. Unfortunately, a similar connection that would spur motivation in males to receive the vaccine has not yet been established.

Newman concludes that the concept of an HPV vaccine for boys is new in Canada and has seen a low rate of adoption. He believes that physicians, social workers, and public health care institutions need to be more active in communicating the benefits of the vaccine in boys and the beneficial role it can play in maintaining the safety and health of Canadians.


Written by Russ Allen

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