Thursday, October 27, 2011

CDC Now On Board for GARDASIL for BOYS

This week the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) unanimously voted to recommend that 11-12 year old boys be vaccinated against HPV (the Human Papilloma Virus)- hooray! Girls have NO monopoly on genital warts, which affect over one million Americans each year. They are COMMON. Sadly, in my clinical experience, little harms self-image like a young person developing these genital lesions, especially because we cannot simply cure them and make them go away forever.

Genital warts are transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact, and though this usually occurs during sex, actual intercourse is certainly not required to pass them on. They are very contagious, with transmission rate of up to 65%. Warts typically recur despite treatment, and frankly, the treatment is unpleasant at best- we burn the warts chemically or with liquid nitrogen. If you've ever had a wart frozen/burned off your knee, you know what that feels like, and the genital area has more nerve endings. Enough said!

The Gardasil vaccine immunizes recipients against the two strains of HPV (6& 11) that cause 90% of genital warts. Additionally, Gardasil protects against the two strains of HPV that cause the majority of cervical cancers. While males don't have a cervix to get cancer, they do have other parts that get HPV-related cancers (anal & penile, as well as some head and neck cancers,) although certainly these cancers are less common.

Gardasil was approved for use in males over two years ago, but the public has mainly been aware of the use in females. I'm glad the CDC and ACIP are on board, and hope that with increased education, we can help protect the next generation against HPV-related diseases.
BOTTOM LINE: Gardasil- it's not just for girls! Talk to your family doctor about immunizing ALL your kids.

PS. I am NOT on anyone's payroll for this vaccine- but I absolutely do recommend it.

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