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Males Aged 11-21 Should Get Gardasil HPV Vaccine

Advisory Panel Votes 13-0 to Make HPV Vaccination Routine for Boys
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Oct. 25, 2011 -- Boys and men aged 11 to 21 should routinely be offered the Gardasil vaccine for HPV, the human papillomavirus, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) today voted.

Although HPV vaccination is approved for males as well as females, it has been routinely recommended only for girls and women up to age 26. The ACIP decision changes that.

The panel voted 13-0, with one abstention, to make HPV vaccination with Gardasil routine for boys aged 11-12. In a second 8-5-1 vote, the panel extended routine Gardasil vaccination to boys and men through age 21.

And in a third vote, the panel voted 13-0-1 to recommend Gardasil for 22- to 26-year-old men who have sex with men, or who have weakened immune systems. Boys 11-12 years old will be offered Gardasil as a routine vaccination; it can be given as early as age 9. It will be offered as a catch-up vaccination to older teens and young men who have not completed the three-shot series.

The ACIP continues to recommend either of the two HPV vaccines, Merck's Gardasil or GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix, to women. It's routinely recommended at age 11-12 and may be given as early as age 9, with catch-up vaccinations up to age 26. Cervarix is not approved for men.

Gardasil's cost -- listed on a commercial Internet pharmacy site at about $140 a dose -- made some of the ACIP panel members hesitate to recommend it for young men. But many were swayed by an argument from James Turner, MD, executive director of the American College Health Association and a professor at the University of Virginia.

Turner noted that while most of the panel focused on the cancer-prevention benefit of HPV vaccination, the vaccine offers other less tangible benefits. A strong recommendation, he said, would ensure that the vaccine is covered by health insurance.

"The consequences of HPV rarely include cancer but always include anxiety, suspicion about a partner's fidelity, or about being 'damaged goods' and never able to enter into a valid relationship," Turner told the panel. "By making a firm recommendation, we remove any ambiguity about insurance covering this vaccine."

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