In an important step in the right direction, a CDC panel has recommended that boys as well as girls be vaccinated against HPV.
CNN reports that the CDC currently recommends the vaccine for girls aged 11 or 12. But boys have received a weaker "permissive recommendation." Now, a committee has voted to extend the stronger recommendation to boys as well. The recommendation will go to the CDC director and the Secretary of Health and Human Services for approval. Says pediatrician Dr. Lawrence Stanberry,
Recommending universal immunization for girls and making the recommendation for boys permissive sends parents mixed messages. Girls acquire the infection from boys and it seems appropriate, even fair, for boys to share responsibility for maximizing community [herd] immunity.
And vaccinating boys won't just be good for their female partners. Those who grow up to have sex with men will have added protection against anal cancer. And all will have a lower risk of HPV-related throat cancer, which doctors say could be more common than cervical cancer by 2020 if left unchecked. It's clearer than ever that HPV is not just a women's issue — it's a large-scale public health problem, and all of the public needs all the protection they can get.