Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Vaccine Debate Once Focused on Sex Shifts as Boys Join the Target Market

Read more about HPV on the IRMA blog.

Also of interest:
Anal cancer prevention: how we are failing men who have sex with men


via Washington Post, by Rob Stein

When a vaccine designed to protect girls against a sexually transmitted virus arrived three years ago, the debate centered on one question: Would the shots make young girls more likely to have sex?

Now the vaccine's maker is trying to get approval to sell the vaccine for boys, and the debate is focusing on something else entirely: Is it worth the money, and is it safe and effective enough?

"We are still more worried about the promiscuity of girls than the promiscuity of boys," said Susan M. Reverby, a professor of women's studies and medical history at Wellesley College. "There's still that double standard."

Read the rest.

1 comment:

Ross Cranston said...

The issue of HPV vaccination for boys was always going to be a thorny one and we are seeing the beginning of that debate here. Whereas in women a very strong argument for personal protection from cervical cancer could be made - and Gardasil is most commonly referred to as a cancer vaccine - it is impossible to discuss HPV vaccination in boys without sexualizing the pre-teen potential recipient. The discussion with parents may go like this:
1. When your son starts having sex he may acquire an STD that he could pass on to his next partner, so vaccinate to protect her.
2. When your son starts having sex he will likely acquire genital HPV (as 75% of Americans do), and this vaccine will protect him from the most common types, and the discomfort of genital wart removal.
3. When your son starts having receptive anal sex this vaccine may protect him from developing anal cancer in the future.
Clearly there are societal challenges ahead, quite apart from the as yet unanswered medical questions of efficacy/length of protection/prevention of genital duysplasia that may take years to answer.
Unfortunately, particularly for scenario 3 where the child is most at risk of the long term adverse effects of HPV infcetion, the window of opportunity for this prophylactic vaccine will soon close.

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