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Access to the HPV Vaccine Expanded to Young Boys in Canada

Update Date: Apr 19, 2013 01:36 PM EDT
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A recent study revealed that the free administration of the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine to young girls in Australia might have helped lowered the number of genital wart cases that arise from the virus. In this study, researchers found a decline in over 70 percent of genital warts in women between the ages of 21 and 30. The HPV vaccine is often only administered to girls for free because HPV can cause cervical cancer. Boys can have HPV but the virus will not lead to the same repercussions.  However, due to the fact that boys can spread the virus unknowingly, several experts have stated that boys should get the vaccine as well. Now, in the Prince Edward Island of Canada, officials have decided to extend their funding for the vaccination to young boys as well.

According to Merck, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures the vaccine, the island will now provide publicly funded school-based HPV vaccinations for young boys. The vaccine, known as Gardasil, can protect against four different strains of the virus, which is responsible for anal cancer and genital warts as well. Ever since the vaccine was approved, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization had recommended girls and women from the ages of nine to 26 to get vaccinated. More recently in 2012, the committee extended this recommendation to include men as well.

The Canadian island was one of the first provinces to implement a school-based program that helped educate and vaccinate young girls against the virus. Now, the island has taken another progressive step to include boys as well.

"P.E.I.'s (Prince Edward Island) decision to include boys is an important milestone in protecting both males and females against the diseases that can result from HPV infection, such as genital warts and anal-genital cancers," Dr. Mauricio Ede, medical director at Merck Canada, said. "Both males and females contribute to the spread of HPV and both develop diseases as a result of HPV infection."

Since the virus is transmissible via boys and girls, it would be ideal to vaccinate all young children regardless of their sex. If more programs campaign to give boys the vaccine, researchers might find a smaller percentage of HPV cases in the future.  

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