The HPV Vaccine: Not Just for Women?


   With new developments and research into the effects and success of the HPV vaccine, awareness of the benefits that this vaccine has on the population needs to be increased. Often times these vaccines targeted towards particular STIs are catered towards women in terms of information, but now it is more relevant and necessary than ever to show the possibilities of the HPV vaccine in terms of the population as a whole.

   First, a background on the HPV vaccine in general must be given. This particular vaccine, known as HPV4, is targeted towards HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18. In June 2006, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed its usage in females. Another vaccine, known as Bivalent HPV vaccine, was licensed for usage in females in October 2009, but is specifically utilized against HPV 16 and 18. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) often give recommendations on vaccines, and have done the same for this particular vaccine. It recommends routine use of the vaccine in young girls, at 11 or 12 years of age. Then, in 2009, the HPV4 received its license for usage in males, specifically for genital wart prevention.

   This advance was extremely important to respond to the male burden of medical problems. HPV 16 can cause anal, penile and oropharyngeal cancers, and many of the current cases of these diseases are result of this. Out of 22,000 cancers happening annually in the US linked to HPV 16 and 18, about 7000 cases are in males. This is clearly a pressing issue in the area of sexual health, especially that of males, which is why this HPV vaccine is so pertinent in this day and age.

   Many studies were carried out to test the success of this particular vaccine, in both males and females. Data was collected on the vaccine’s ability to successfully prevent genital warts, with positive results. HPV vaccine given in one dose to males had 68.1% effectiveness in prevention of HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18 genital warts. However, if 3 doses of the vaccine were given, and the patient was seronegative, meaning the antibodies for the HPV were not present, and DNA-negative on the first day, the percentage was 89.3%.

   The good thing about this HPV vaccine is that tests show symptoms are very minimal, and were due to reactions at the site of injection. Recipients of the vaccine most often reported headache and fever as the worst of the side effects.

   According to data collection, in the time period of licensure of the vaccine to September 2011, the number of doses of HPV4 distributed throughout the US has reached at least 40 million. Though this number seems amazing, the amount of women and men actually getting the vaccine is considered low. I believe the best approach to this low response is to simply spread information, especially ACIP recommendations.

   The determined vaccination routine for males that ACIP suggests is for those age 11or 12, given in three doses. The series can be initially at given at 9 years of age. With such positive results and benefits, don’t hesitate to look into this vaccine, whether it is for yourself, your partner and even your children.

All information provided is from the source, “Recommendations on the Use of HPV Vaccine in Males: Background of HPV Vaccination Program in the United States,” http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/756274_2. 

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