The debate for the HPV vaccine for boys and girls goes on
Posted Mar 06 2013 3:36pm
Why it is so important to be more aware about the human papillomavirus, and how this can save your life and your children’s lives.
The fact is, that anybody who hasn’t had the HPV vaccine and is sexually active is at risk of contracting this common and extremely contagious virus, which may have very serious consequences, including: cervical, anal, penile and oral cancers. Even though HPV is the most common STD worldwide, more light and attention has been drawn to the prophylactics in women up until now, with the recommended annual pap smears, as well as the recommended vaccine for young girls, who are still not sexually active. Recently, there is a worldwide tendency to increase the HPV awareness among men, as well as parents of boys, who since 2009 are urged to get their sons vaccinated for HPV as well.
Probably, because there is a screening test – the PAP smear test, and also because cervical cancer is almost 100% caused by the HPV was the attention given mainly to women until recently. But studies show that men can equally be affected by the HPV, which can cause penile, anal and esophagus cancers, as well as genital and other warts. There are over 100 subtypes of the HPV, of which at least 15 are found to be extremely likely to cause cancer of some type.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently announced that the Gardsil vaccine is now recommended for young boys who are not sexually active yet, so parents of girls and boys should consider this option very seriously.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a common screening test for HPV for men, unlike the PAP smear test for women. Also, there is no blood test which will test for the HPV, so a large number of people worldwide are not even aware they are carriers of this virus.
A study has shown that gay and bisexual men are 17 times more prone to contracting HPV than heterosexual men. Men from minorities are also found to be more likely to be infected with HPV. Another study has found that a disturbing 50% of men over 15 are infected with HPV worldwide. Another study published claims that 1 of every 15 people in America is infected with oral HPV, and of that shocking number mostly men were found to be affected.
Apart from being almost 100% cause of cervical cancer, HPV has been found to be the 70% cause for oral and throat cancer (apart from smoking, which is another great risk factor). The mortality rate of oral cancer is 3 times higher than the death rate of cervical cancers.
Unfortunately in the US there has been a low administration of the HPV vaccine to boys, and a growing resistance of the parents to do so. According to experts, the main reason for this low number of vaccinations is mainly because parents and people as a whole are not fully aware of the seriousness of the possible consequences of HPV, the numerous cancers it may cause, as well as the high risk their children have of contracting it at some point of their lives. Also, there seems to be a lack of belief in the safety of the vaccine, as well as its long-term effect.
The truth is that the HPV vaccines are considered to be 97-100% effective for children and people who are not yet sexually active or have not yet been exposed to HPV.
For women, an annual pelvic exam and PAP smear is recommended as a screening measure against dysplasia and cervical cancer resulting from HPV. For both sexes smoking also increases the risk of developing cancers as a result of HPV, because smoking has been found to suppress the human immune system.
The good news is that the majority of people affected or exposed to HPV naturally clear up from the infection through their immune systems. In fact 90% of the people with HPV get their systems cleared up in about two years after the exposure.
Still, keeping in mind how common this virus is, ands how serious and dangerous the consequences can be, considering getting yourself or your children vaccinated for HPV is a very bright idea.