Study: HPV vaccine as effective in men as women

    Philadelphia started vaccinating young men for human papillomavirus about a year ago, after the Centers for Disease Control approved its use for preventing genital warts in men and curtailing the spread of the virus to women.

    A new clinical trial shows that the HPV vaccine Gardasil is as effective in men as in women. A study sponsored by the drug’s manufacturer Merck found the vaccine more than 90 percent successful in preventing genital lesions caused by the four strains of HPV that the vaccine targets.  Genital warts in men can cause penile and anal cancers.

    The City of Philadelphia started vaccinating young men for human papillomavirus about a year ago, after the Centers for Disease Control approved its use for preventing genital warts in men and curtailing the spread of the virus to women.

    Dr. Lenore Asbel, medical specialist for the city’s STD control program, said she has been pleased by the number of boys and young men who have gotten the sequence, which requires three shots. She hopes the body of research suggesting the drug prevents cancer in men will encourage higher uptake rates.

    “We have more and more published data suggesting that not only vaccinating men prevents the spread to women, but will prevent some cancers in men as well,” Asbel.

    In the last year, almost 11,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered to males in the city.

    Dr. Robert Winn, medical director at Philadelphia’s Mazzoni Center, said he has been recommending the vaccine for young men for a while, and sees it becoming routine as more research is done.

    “My prediction is that parents will hear about it and the kids will hear about it and hopefully be more excited about getting the vaccine to prevent both warts and cancer,” Winn said.

    The vaccine is on the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule for girls and women under 27, but not for men. Critics of widespread vaccination for boys and young men say the low incidence of HPV-related cancers in males doesn’t warrant the cost of the vaccine, which runs almost $400 without insurance.

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