Should boys get the HPV shot?

In lots of countries, males get the vaccine. It’s not approved here.


Should boys get the HPV shot? In schools, clinics and doctors’ offices across Canada, girls are being vaccinated against the human papilloma virus, the leading cause of cervical cancer. Behind closed doors, a few boys are quietly being vaccinated, too. In Canada, the Gardasil shot is only approved for use in females aged nine to 26, but “many physicians have vaccinated their boys,” says Dr. Michel Fortier, president of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, which doesn’t endorse the use of Gardasil in males. In a growing number of countries, males can get the vaccine. Do they know something we don’t?

Cervical cancer kills about 400 women in Canada each year, but it’s not the only HPV-related cancer. Beyond genital warts, the most common sexually transmitted infection, HPV has been linked to penile, head and neck, and anal cancers, to name a few. In fact, the virus causes about six per cent of all cancers around the world, says Dr. Nubia Muñoz, in Toronto this week to accept the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award for her research into the virus. If we’re serious about eliminating it in the “foreseeable future,” says Nobel laureate Dr. Harald zur Hausen, who discovered that HPV causes cervical cancer, “I would strongly advocate the vaccination of boys.”

Indeed, the U.S. recently licensed the use of Gardasil in males aged nine to 26, joining countries like Australia, New Zealand and 27 European Union nations where males can get the shot, too. Approval for use in males has lagged largely because early studies focused on women, says HPV researcher Dr. Daron Ferris at the Medical College of Georgia. (Health Canada wouldn’t comment on whether it’s considering extending the use of Gardasil, but said that Merck, its manufacturer, would have to submit data showing its safety and effectiveness in that group.)

Beyond offering protection to their female partners, Ferris thinks men could see a “tremendous benefit” from the vaccine, and a growing body of research suggests he’s right. One Merck-funded study followed 4,065 young men (in Canada and elsewhere) who got three shots of the vaccine or a placebo. After 30 months, three who got Gardasil had genital warts; among those who got the placebo, 28 did. “I’m a firm advocate of everybody getting the vaccine,” Ferris says, “because I see what happens to people who don’t.”

But some experts argue that if we vaccinate enough females, men will be protected, too. In Australia, which provided free Gardasil to women aged 26 and under for the last two years, 70 per cent have now been vaccinated. Cases of genital warts dropped sharply as a result: before the vaccine was rolled out, 15 per cent of young women who visited the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre had genital warts, says Dr. Christopher Fairley, its director. Now, it’s down to six per cent. Australian males, who have a much lower vaccination rate (unlike women, Fairley says, they weren’t offered the shot for free), have benefited indirectly. “We’ve seen a 20 per cent reduction in genital warts in heterosexual men,” he notes.

If that’s the case, some argue that vaccinating males doesn’t make economic sense. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that, if enough young girls get the shot, including boys might be an unnecessary cost. (With a cost of over $130 per dose, and three doses required, Gardasil isn’t cheap.) But zur Hausen, a past Gairdner winner who’s in Toronto for the awards this week, points out that vaccinating just females might take too long: “We’d reach our goal much faster if we also vaccinate boys,” he says.

Beyond that, there’s one group that won’t be protected no matter how many females get the shot: homosexual men, who are 17 times more likely to get anal cancer. In an article published in Xtra in 2008, Sky Gilbert argued that Gardasil may benefit gay men: “If even one death from anal cancer can be prevented, aren’t we obligated as a society to do so? What about us?” (The Harvard team didn’t look specifically at homosexual men.) Of course, the HPV shot works best when it’s administered before first sexual contact. If gay men are to receive the HPV vaccine, making it available to all boys or young men would be the only way.

Until the cost of the vaccine drops, zur Hausen notes, widespread male vaccination isn’t likely. (In the U.S., medical experts did not push for the routine use of Gardasil in boys, as they have in girls.) But there are promising signs: the U.S. just approved Cervarix, another vaccine already licensed in 100 countries around the world for use in girls. Having another vaccine to choose from could create competition, observers hope, and lower prices. (Health Canada is evaluating the safety and effectiveness of Cervarix before approving its use, officials say.)

Ferris, for one, believes that male vaccination will be an important step in eradicating a dangerous virus. “This is a historic moment: we have a cancer prevention vaccine,” he says. Now if only everybody could get it.


Should boys get the HPV shot?

  1. May i know some further information about the Gardasil?
    1. Is it really proven safe to be used?
    2. What is the side effects of Gardasil? Will we get another cancer after having the vaccine?Like cervical cancer.
    Thanks for information!

  2. May i have some further information about the Gardasil?
    1. Is it has been proven safe and effective to use?
    2. What is the side effect of taking this vaccine?
    Thanks for information!

    • Although the HPV vaccine was released fairly recently, it has a terrible track record in regards to both serious reactions –
      blood clots, seizures, paralysis and yes even death. There have now been several dozen fatal reactions reported
      to VAERS – the totally inadequate voluntary vaccine adverse events reporting system in the U.S. While officialdom,
      as usual, brushes these reactions and deaths off as "coincidental", some of the reactions and deaths have literally
      occured within hours of the vaccine. In pseudo safety trials, Gardasil was tested against an aluminum placebo –
      a known highly neuro-toxic substance that is hardly inert. By comparing it against a non-inert placebo, it skewed
      the safety trial results. The vaccine, itself, is administered in three shots which adds up to a sizeable dose of
      aluminum. Why would anyone want to inject aluminum directly into the body?

    • cont… Remember that cancer does NOT result from a "vaccine deficiency" In fact, the irony is that this vaccine – like
      others – is not tested for its carcinogenicity – potential to induce cancer! Re. cervical cancer, it is one of the rarer
      forms of cancer and primarily affects women in their 40s and beyond. The vaccine, too, is only effective against
      several of many HPV strains, and the vast majority of HPV infections clear up on their own. There are safe, sane
      ways to reduce your risk of cancer. Amongst these, include a diet with a strong nutritional profile for selenium,
      folic acid, vitamin C, anti-oxidants etc.

      • what does the fact that it affects women in their 40's and beyond have to do with anything? All the more reason I say to prevent it as much as possible. Women in their 40's and beyond are less likely to get regular pap tests because they are now beyond childbearing years and aren't going to be followed by a doctor as closely. And the fact is that cervical cancer is not incredibly rare. It's just that you don't hear about it as much because when it's caught early enough the 5 year survival rate is upwards of 98% whereas when it's diagnosed at stage 4 the 5 year survival rate has dropped to only 5%.

        And to say that it isn't really necessary because most HPV infections clear up on their own is rediculous. The point of the vaccine isn't really to prevent infections, it's to prevent infections that cause cancer. 98% of cervical cancer is caused by the 4 strains of HPV that the vaccine is targeting.

        You're right there are many safe, sane ways to reduce your risk of cancer and one of them is vaccination.

        • continued……..

          Why is it that people fail to realize that over the course of history the ability of medicine to keep us healthy has greatly improved and one of those reasons is due in no small part to vaccination. Would you rather go back to a time where we had no vaccination, no antibiotics, no lifesaving surgeries and rely solely on a diet rich in anti-oxidants?

          I'm not denying that there may be people who have adverse reactions some of which could be serious enough to result in death which is unfortunate but that number is by far less than the number of women who would otherwise die from cervical cancer if there were no vaccine.

  3. don't take h1n1 stot -deadly more info at: vran.org ,http://www.theflucase.com ,
    infowars.com -radio , H1N1 contains mercury and adjavents deadly and dangerous
    spread this message research

  4. WTF? HPV is supposed to protect against 4 strains for human papilloma virus, the most common ones that cause cervical cancer. Getting the vaccine doesn’t mean you’ll be immune from cervical cancer, you just may get cervical cancer from other 30 HPV strains.

    Notice what I’ve been talking about? CERVICAL CANCER. Hence, WTF are we vaccinating boys for? Did I miss something while studying male anatomy in class? If the intent is to prevent genital warts, that’s a farce as you’ll just build resistant strains over time and other strains will proliferate. Can we stop fear mongering drug company and “Merck-funded studies” on Gardasil lol — yeah real unbiased there. First it’s advertised to prevent cervical cancer, now it’s marketed to prevent warts. What next?… everything else remotely related to HPV???

    MMR, smallpox, HepB etc — vaccine good.
    HPV — vaccine unnecessary.

    • H1N1 makes you sterile……………………

    • Gardasil has always been approved for prevention of two of the most common strains of HPV that cause warts (condyloma). It is approved for men to prevent warts and anal cancer, the other two common HPV strains. Most men have no knowledge of HPV unless they get warts. Treating warts is painful, takes time, and affects your self concept.

  5. See why its important to get the HPV shot: The link between HPV & oral cancer posted by The Oral Cancer Foundation: Watch this youtube video on HPV & Oral Cancer [youtube JJY2ynlXoKA&feature=player_profilepage Watch this youtube video on HPV & Oral Cancer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJY2ynlXoKA&fe… youtube]

  6. Maybe it's just me, but shouldn't we be advocating safer practices toward sex in our kids and young adults rather than giving them a vaccine that, for most, provides a false sense of security?

    Also, I don't think that the vaccine should be made mandatory, as there is no prescreening to see if the parties being vaccinated have already had one of the strains of HPV, which drastically decreases the vaccine's efficiency. There has also been a list of VERY SERIOUS side effects, which, while not common, seem to have a higher prevalence than one would think in a vaccine that has been so "thoroughly" tested. Maybe I'm just a sceptic, but I've done a bunch of reading and have formed my own opinion. I encourage everyone to educate themselves and make their own decision.

    Do some reading on viewpoints from the flipside too… there's a bunch of articles found right here on the macleans website:


    from said article:

    "there are concerns that not enough nine- to 15-year-old girls were studied during clinical trials for Gardasil. Approximately 1,200 were enrolled, and according to a June report by the Canadian Women's Health Network, only 100 of them were age nine, and that limited group was only followed for 18 months. "Clearly, this is a very weak information base on which to construct a policy of mass vaccinations for all girls aged nine to 13, as per the National Advisory Committee on Immunization's recommendations," the CWHN report summarized."

    Like I said, educate yourself and make your own call.

  7. The ignorance among the anti-vaccine posters here is unbelievable.. The anti-vaccine posters who believe the mistruths spread on the internet are simply naive and leaves me shaking my head….

  8. in the US Starting Dec. 14, the HPV, or human papillomavirus vaccine will no longer be on the list of immunizations female immigrants ages 11 to 26 must receive before becoming legal permanent residents.

  9. There is most definitely logic behind vaccinating boys against HPV: while women can visit their doctors for a yearly Pap smear, and also be tested for HPV infection, there is no way to know if a man is carrying potentially dangerous virus. The most dangerous forms of the HPV virus do not present as genital warts; they are asymptomatic in males. And let's be clear: HPV is a very serious virus, and all pervasive. Men do not have the best record when it comes to taking care of their sexual health; I contracted it, having engaged in what I thought was safe sex, from an individual who had no idea he had it and hadn't even heard of it. I was treated for it, and while I had a milder form of the virus, there is no treatment available that is 100% in eradicating it; treatment is painful and takes a long time for its effects to become permanent. My doctor also told me that the incidence rate for the virus is 99%, which is a heck of a lot higher than the relatively modest 75% you hear most people quote. If you've ever had an abnormal Pap smear, chances are you've contracted an HPV infection. And if you're a loving partner to a woman going through the frightening experience of having any kind of HPV infection, you'd certainly not want to contemplate the possibility that you could be responsible for it.

    The problem is the unpredictability of the virus: it can go away on its own, or it can kill in short order. New links are being made to penile and testicular cancers, also, which is where the angle on vaccinating boys gets its best reasoning. I've received the vaccine myself (it can still confer protection against the most common forms; I have no way of knowing which I did contract) and the fear mongering about vaccinating girls and boys simply appalls me. If I had a son or daughter, I'd want to spare them the kind of experience I went through, not to mention the very real danger of acquiring a virus that can develop into devastating cancer. My aunt died of cancer that initially began as cervical cancer, almost assuredly from an untreated HPV infection. It spread to the rest of her body and she was dead within a few years, after much pain and suffering.

    So let's not lose our sense of proportion when we speak of this. HPV is not a minor condition.

  10. Ice will have formed on the Gates of Hades the day our sons get this crap.

    • Because you'll be damned if you want to contribute to your son's future desire to protect his wife, and the mother of your grandchildren, from dying of cervical cancer. Nice.

      • Propwash …you've swallowed the propaganda from the medical community and the sex-ed gurus. Might you investigate what occurred to a widely supported drug called Thalidomide. Not so nice!

  11. I have given out 100's of Gardisil shot and have not seen one reaction. As far as the H1N1 shot, the first one to come out had traces of mercury. The companies have since developed one's without. If you are a person that has severe allergic reactions (especially to eggs) I wouldn't suggest it (H1N1) but the probability of someone coming down with a H1N1 virus with life threating consequences is small.
    I have taken care of several women that had cervical cancer r/t the HPV, and it is a horrible death. I personally would choose the vaccine over the chance of cancer. I Furthermore, have taken care of someone with penile cancer r/t HPV, also a horrible death, and much younger than the females that developed the cervical cancer. The fact that the young man developed it earlier and died faster has confused me since it is easily spotted where the females is not easily spotted.

  12. According to the US government's National Cancer Institute [3], human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are a group of more than 100 viruses. Certain types cause warts or papillomas that are benign. The HPVs that cause the common warts on hands and feet are different from those that cause growth in the throat or genetial area. Some types are associated with cancer, and are called “high risk” HPVs.

    Of the more than 100 types of HPVs, over 30 can be passed through sexual contact. Most HPV infections occur without any symptoms and go away without treatment over the course of a few years. However, HPV infection sometimes persists for many years, with or without causing detectable cell abnormalities.
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  13. No one wants to make a decision that results in the posible loss of their child, but the error in your statement is this. NO vaccine is risk free! Everyone reacts differently to vaccines, medications ect. There may be underlying allergies that can trigger and number of reactions. While I would never want to risk my childs life, I wouldn't dream of skipping his vaccines. Not only does not having my child vaccinated, but it also puts others at risk and that is not okay. I research each vaccine before giving it to my child, and weigh the risks.
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  14. If we can reduce infection in men, we ultimately should be able to prevent transmission of that infection to females, 'cause there's that much less infection around to transmit," Giuliani said, "The data were so robust that merck has decided to create a filing and to submit it to the FDA. And the FDA is currently reviewing that filing for consideration of licensing the vaccine for males as well as for females."

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  15. Hpv shots are very risky for boys under 12 years old.

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    • why is it risky for boys under 12?

  16. Aside from giving shots to the kids, education must also be taught regarding safe sex.

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