In new guidelines published Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics renewed their call for 11- and 12-year-old boys to get the three-dose vaccine for the human papillomavirus (HPV).
The HPV vaccine, which is highly effective at preventing cervical cancer, has often been recommended for girls and young women. But since it became available in 2006, other cancers thought to be caused by HPV have increased, including anal cancer and some head and neck cancers.
“[This showed] us that providing the vaccine to both genders would be beneficial,” Dr. Michael Brady, chairman of the academy’s Committee on Infectious Diseases, told HealthDay. “Currently, our approach isn’t effective from a public health perspective since males are also participants in the transmission of HPV. If we include both girls and boys, we could have a potential impact on HPV transmission.”
The guidelines published in the journal Pediatrics mirror a similar recommendation last year from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
HPV is transmitted though genital or oral sex, but to be effective, the vaccine for the virus must be given before someone becomes infected. Health experts recommend its use when kids are 11 or 12, an age during which studies have shown the immune system responds more strongly to the vaccine.
Left untreated, HPV can cause to certain forms of cancer.