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ACIP Recommends Routine HPV Vaccine for Boys

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Panel says HPV vaccine should be part of routine immunization in boys

Panel reviews clinical trials showing anal cancer can be prevented with Gardasil vaccine

This week the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) convened and decided HPV vaccine should be part of routine immunizations for boys - meaning insurance would pay.

The decision is the result of a study, funded by Merck and Co., the manufacturer of Gardasil, that shows anal cancer can be prevented.

The finding showed the HPV vaccine to be safe and effective in studies conducted by University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

In the same study, vaccinating against human papilloma virus was also shown to likely protect women from anal cancer.

Joel Palefsky, MD, FRCPC led the clinical trial. In the 1990's, UCSF established the Anal Neoplasia Clinic at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center and now Palefsky who founded the Center is director.

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The trial included 602 males, age 16 to 26, who have sex with men from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Germany, Spain and the United States. All had at least one, but no more than 5 sexual encounters.

The men either received placebo or a three series of injections of Gardasil that protects from the most common strains of HPV that can lead to anal cancer and anogenital warts.

The Gardasil vaccine reduced anal lesions that are precursors to cancer 75 percent in men not previously exposed to HPV 6 and HPV 11, in the vaccine and 54 percent in men who had been exposed to the strains of the virus.

"Almost six thousand people every year in this country are diagnosed with anal cancer, and more than 700 people die from the disease," said Palefsky. "What this trial showed is that those cancers and deaths could be prevented."

Palefsky said past studies that HPV vaccine protects from anal warts in heterosexual men and in men who have sex with other men, combined with the new study, shows immunization against human papilloma virus should be routine and can prevent anal cancer.

HPV immunization is now recommended as routine, versus just a recommended vaccine for boys age 16 to 21; after the ACIP reviewed evidence presented in the New England Journal of Medicine that anal cancer is preventable. The CDC will have to formally approve the recommendation.

Image credit: Morguefile