Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The HPV Vaccine for Men: Yes or No?

IRMA would love to hear your thoughts and comments...

1. Last month, IRMA member Robert Reinhard shared the news story from Bloomberg that "Merck's Guardasil May Not Be Cost Effective in Boys", wondering whther the Harvard study mentioned in the article sufficiently addressed cost effectiveness and use of the HPV vaccine for MSM, even allowing for the ambiguity of what that group looks like in populations <26>

"Vaccinating all boys with Merck & Co.’s Gardasil, used to prevent cervical cancer, may be less cost effective than for girls, a study said.

The improvement in quality and length of life may not be worth the cost of vaccinating boys with Gardasil to protect against the spread of the sexually transmitted virus that causes cancers of the cervix, anus and penis, according to an analysis by Harvard researchers. The study was presented today to advisers to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials should focus on vaccinating girls, said the study authors.

The research differs from Merck’s analysis of boys and young men up to age 26 that found vaccinating them with Gardasil was cost effective. Vaccinating males may help prevent them from spreading the cancer-causing human papillomavirus, or HPV, to women as well as protect them against genital warts and pre- cancerous lesions, Merck said. CDC’s
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices plans to vote in October about whether Gardasil should routinely be given to boys."

2. IRMA member Mark Hubbard then shared the presentation from Dr. Anna Giuliano on HPV in Males: The Future of Vaccination to Prevent Cancer, making a case for male vaccination.

3. Finally, a recent article from Xtra, the Canadian gay and lebian newspaper, reports that a University of California, San Francisco study funded by Merck found that vaccination for males is cost effective. The article reports:

"Palefsky [the lead researcher from the UCSF study] says the vaccine would still make an effective preventative health tool for everyone because the same strains of HPV that cause most cervical cancers in women also cause a majority of anal cancers in men.

“They’re entirely the same,” he says. “That’s why we’re optimistic that if boys do get vaccinated with the same vaccine that girls are using, it should prevent a substantial number of anal cancers.”

HPV is sexually transmitted. The US Centers for Disease Control suggests that gay men are as many as 17 times more likely to develop anal cancer than are heterosexual men.

“On a per-individual basis the risk is clearly much higher in MSM than the general population,” says Palefsky. “That’s presumably due to anal sex, though we also know that you don’t have to have anal sex to get anal HPV infection.”

What are YOUR thoughts? HPV vaccine for all men? Gay men and other MSM only? Provided to boys or adults? Still for girls only?

1 comment:

Bridget Haire said...

In recent submissions to the Commonwealth Government of Australia, Family Planning NSW has argued for, at the very least, no-cost opt-in HPV vaccination for boys in general and a targeted free vaccination program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys. The latter is largely due to phenomenal and unacceptable death rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from cervical cancer, while the former is in response to other HPV-related cancers in men.

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