The facts: Roughly half of adult males in the US are infected with HPV. Some strains, passed along to women through sexual contact, can cause cervical cancer. HPV can also increase the likelihood of penile or anal cancer in men, and can cause genital warts. The FDA has already approved the vaccine for boys. But the CDC is still deliberating over whether boys should get it. A significant decision in the process is expected at a meeting next month.
As we've written, there are some public health cost concerns for this, since the immediate benefit for boys isn't as clear as for girls and the vaccine is expensive. But if the point of any vaccine is to eradicate a major health risk, vaccinating boys would actually make it far more efficient.
And vaccinating boys might also help mitigate some of the irrational stigmatizing of the vaccine. The past couple of weeks have shown how far you can get talking about government injections of little girls allegedly initiating them into sex. For better or worse, there's hardly the same societal concern for boys.
Dr. Rodney Willoughby of the American Academy of Pediatrics told The Huffington Post, "Measles used to kill one out of 150 kids. Getting rid of measles, getting rid of polio, those rank up there among some of the major medical advances of the 20th century. Likewise, HPV is a highly fatal virus that kills one out of a thousand people, so why wouldn't you get rid of it if you can?" Of the past few weeks of Bachmann and Santorum politicking around the vaccine, he said, "There are direct, measurable consequences to this uptake: It means only 35 percent of the current birth cohort will be protected from a cancer that will kill one in 1,000 of them, and that's just a shame."
CDC Considers Vaccinating Boys, not Just Girls, For HPV [Health Day]
HPV Vaccine No More A 'Government Injection' Than Other Mandatory Vaccines, Health Officials Say [HuffPo]
Earlier: Probably Half Of Men Have HPV
Now That HPV Vaccine Is Available For Boys, Debate Turns To Health Benefits, Not Sex
The Sex-Hating Hysteria Behind Republicans' HPV Vaccine Debate