For or Against: HPV Vaccine for Boys AND Girls?

What's your take?  Are you vaccinating your 12-year-old for HPV?

As we all know, HPV is the human papillomavirus and it causes cervical cancer in girls, along with other cancers.  It makes me uneasy, as I'm sure it does others, to think of my son having sex -- it seems 'way too early to be worried about this -- but I've made arrangements for him to have the vaccine.

I became a teenager and young adult in the '70's, when everyone was having sex, all the time, in just about any place, with just about anyone.  Thank God, this was before HIV and AIDS.  But somewhere along the way, I got the virus and though it hasn't harmed me in any way, I don't want the same to happen to my son.

Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention and the American College of Pediatrics now recommend that both girls and boys be vaccinated against HPV, reports.

Michael Douglas (probably inadvertently) called attention to its ability to cause head and neck cancer last week.  “We are clearly seeing an epidemic of HPV-related head and neck cancer - the numbers are rising dramatically," Robert I. Haddad, MD, disease center leader of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s head and neck oncology program, told "HPV is a cause of many cancers, so it is really important to support endeavors to vaccinate.”

HPV is not one disease.  It has more than 100 strains, including HPV-16 and 18, which are aggressive, high-risk, sexually transmitted, and have been linked to certain types of cervical or head and neck cancers, according to Dr. Haddad.

“A decade ago, patients with head and neck cancer were smokers or heavy drinkers," quotes Dr. Haddad. "Now, only 20 percent are smokers or drinkers, and the other 80 percent have an oropharynx cancer caused by an HPV infection."

At first, I thought, I have a boy. I don't need to worry about this.  But, “There is a misconception that only girls should be vaccinated," Dr. Haddad said in the article. "We strongly believe that both boys and girls should be vaccinated against HPV."

The vaccine, Gardasil (Merck), for girls ages 9 to 26, protects against four strains of HPV, including HPV-6 and -11, as well as the high risk strains HPV-16 and 18, which are a known cause of cervical, oropharyngeal, anal, and vaginal cancers, reports. The CDC approved it for boys in 2011.

Yes, it's hard to think of your pre-teens having sex, but it's most likely going to happen.  And f there's something that can protect them, doesn't it make sense to use it?


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