Should HPV Vaccines Be Given To Men?
August 8, 2012

Should HPV Vaccines Be Given To Men?

Connie K. Ho for — Your Universe Online

Color blindness. Menstrual cycle. Males and females differ in a number of areas when it comes to the human body, including vaccinations offered. A new study sparked a debate in the public health sphere when it examined whether the vaccination against human papilloma virus (HPV) should be given to males.

To begin, researchers from the University of Southern California and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) David Geffen School of Medicine as well as Georgetown University of School of Medicine compiled the comprehensive review of medical literature. The various texts included in the study looked at the possibility of reducing illness resulting from HPV infection as well as the cost-effectiveness of increasing routine HPV vaccinations to include the male population. The review was recently published in Viral Immunology and discussed if HPV vaccination for young males was a viable and effective option.

"The authors have dissected the public health, social, ethical, marketing, and economic implications of including of males in HPV vaccination programs," explained David L. Woodland, Editor-in-Chief of Viral Immunology and Chief Scientific Officer, Keystone Symposia on Molecular and Cellular Biology, in a prepared statement. "The data reviewed in this superb paper will be of considerable interest for public health professionals, vaccine researchers, and physicians alike."

The vaccination is normally given to young females to protect against HPV infection and cervical cancer. The two HPV vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, were developed to help reduce the chance of cervical cancer in women as well as increase education, marketing, and immunization campaigns on the disease. However, both males and females can become infected, develop genital warts, and spread HPV.

The report looked at some of the social effects of pushing for the HPV vaccine for males.

“Increased immunity in the male population would also reduce the male role in transmission of the disease, thereby reducing the average risk of contracting cervical cancer in the population of females who have sex with males. Additionally, including males in the vaccination process will reduce the social burden of cancer prevention on females,” noted the authors of the paper.

The paper also discussed some of the economic implications of treating HPV.

“The most prudent programs will include physician involvement in patient education and the implementation of structured vaccination and screening programs. Unfortunately, many countries do not have the necessary resources to undertake national vaccination programs. HPV testing and cytology screening for women and MSM may be the most financially reasonable option for many countries,” wrote the researchers in the report.

Overall, the investigators stated that it was necessary to consider all factors before making a decision on the HPV vaccinations for males.

“The complexity of this debate is compounded by the fact that not all communities, even in the U.S., have access to the resources needed to combat HPV optimally, and thus future strategies must be crafted on a case-specific basis to utilize the methods that are locally available. Considerations should include the economic, social, and health status of each community when determining the true impact of the HPV vaccine,” commented the scientists in the report.

They provided a number of solutions at the end of the report.

“In order to encourage male participation in HPV vaccination in the United States, a new marketing campaign would have to be developed that outlines the other risks of HPV infection, while describing the potential role of the vaccine in mitigating those undesirable outcomes. In conjunction with this marketing push, vaccination for HPV could be added to the normal vaccination schedules for adolescent males and females,” concluded the authors in the article.