HPV vaccination recommended for boys

HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer in women, and has recently also been linked to cancers in the mouth and throat in both sexes. The HPV vaccine is available in South Africa and is recommended for girls and young women to prevent cervical cancer.

‘€œAlthough the vaccine is registered in South Africa, it is not yet available in the public sector due to its very high cost, and a lack of adequate infrastructure to administer the vaccine in adolescent girls,’€ said Professor Lynnette Denny of the University of Cape Town. ‘€œ[In South Africa] vaccination of boys is a resource issue ‘€“ as your resources expand it makes sense to vaccinate boys, but not if they are restricted.’€

It is believed that if boys were vaccinated too, it could prevent HPV-related cancers and genital warts in men. It would also curb the spread of HPV to women, therefore reducing the risk of cervical cancer, which is the very common among South African women, affecting one in every 35 women in the country. The high burden of HIV/Aids in South Africa also aggravates the prevalence of cervical cancer as it lowers women’€™s resistance to HPV.

New recommendations

According to a SAPA report, US health experts have expressed hope that if pre-teen boys and girls are both vaccinated, the rate of infection with HPV will decrease in the general population.

The suggested updates to the vaccination regime in the US was agreed upon by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices (ACIP), and was published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly.

The vaccine was previously only recommended for girls age 11 to 26, but the new guidelines calls for all males aged 11 to 12 to get the vaccine too, with a catch-up vaccination for those between the ages of 13 and 21 if they missed it.

The HPV vaccine also is recommended for males 22 to 26 years old who have not been vaccinated before and who have weakened immune defenses, who test positive for HIV, or who have sex with men.

Sources: Sapa-AFP

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