The first step is admitting you have a problem…

I wasn’t surprised to hear yesterday that the CDC now recommends the routine vaccination of all 11-12 year-old boys for HPV. While I think it makes sense for everyone, both boys and girls, to get vaccinated for HPV, the reason that they’ve finally made this recommendation is because coverage of the target group of girls has not been as successful as hoped.

HPV isn’t just about preventing cervical cancer. While that’s the reason most people have heard about the vaccine, HPV can cause several types of cancer in both men and women, in addition to genital warts. All the more reason to routinely vaccinate against the infection.

But as long as our society continues to support ideas like the link between vaccines and autism, or that the HPV vaccine can result in mental deficiencies, we’re never going to have the coverage needed to effectively reduce the incidence of cervical cancer, or the numerous other rarer cancers associated with HPV infection.

Sadly, just because boys are now recommended to get the vaccine doesn’t mean they will. How many parents will pay that much money to vaccinate their preteen against a sexually transmitted disease to either protect them from a socially stigmatized disease like anal cancer, or to help prevent the spread of HPV to girls to prevent cervical cancer?  Probably not that many.

And it all goes back to money. This time last year it was considered more cost effective to just try harder to get the coverage rate of girls up than to include boys in routine vaccination. If we really want to work on achieving higher coverage rates for the HPV vaccine, the current price of the vaccine isn’t going to cut it. Add in the fact that it comes in a series of three shots to be taken at different times… well, the effort just doesn’t seem worth it unless you’re extremely educated on the issue and concerned about public health along with your child’s health.

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One Comment to “The first step is admitting you have a problem…”

  1. Recent research has even shown that HPV infection raises the risk of heart disease in women with no other risk factors for heart disease. Here is the link to yesterday’s aritcle in the New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/health/research/25theory.html One more reason to prevent this infection!

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