Friday, October 23, 2009

HPV For Boys

The CDC gave Gardasil, the vaccine against HPV, a "permissive" recommendation for men and young boys. This means that the vaccine is okay to sell, but it isn't recommended for all men.

Why? A CDC economist argued that it would be more cost-effective to improve accessibility for young women rather than extend the vaccine to young men.

The argument is that if girls are vaccinated, boys won't have anything to catch or transmit. Why should men bear any responsibility when women can do it for them? It's not like women have any obstacles to obtaining health care.

Furthemore, Dan Savage makes a decent point when he says:
"But if you want to vaccinate gay men against HPV—because women can't do it for us—you have to vaccinate gay men well before we become sexually active, same as girls. Age 11, remember? And since we don't know at age 11 which boys are going to be gay when they grow up, you have to vaccinate all boys against HPV in order to protect the ones who are going to be gay when they grow up. It seems like a no-brainer and a win-win: vaccinating all boys against HPV will protect the gays ones—gay men are 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer as adults—and help protect girls and women from the deadlier strains of HPV. It would also offer some protection to girls whose parents denied them the vaccine for... religious reasons. That's a win-win-win."
More broadly, any man that doesn't have sex exclusively with HPV-vaccinated women is at risk. It's ridiculous that the CDC didn't let this fact influence their decision.

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Danielle said...

Excellent summary of the issue - thanks for posting!

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