BY BLYTHE BERNHARD
Posted: Thursday, July 22, 2010 12:00 am
Human papillomavirus causes most cases of genital warts in men and women and cervical cancer in women. The HPV vaccine prevents against four strains of the virus that cause a majority of the diseases.
The vaccine, Gardasil, has been available to girls for four years and was approved for use in boys last fall. Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region started offering it last month to boys and men ages 9 to 26 at its eight clinics.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease, infecting up to 6 million Americans each year, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About half of adults will have it at some point in their lifetimes.
Most HPV infections resolve on their own but can be passed along unwittingly while the virus is active. The vaccine is most effective if received prior to the initiation of sexual activity.
“In order for us to stem the tide of HPV infection, the most hopeful remedy of course is to have both young girls and young boys vaccinated, because girls and boys give and get HPV from one another,” said Paula Gianino, local president of Planned Parenthood.
Nearly 30 million doses of Gardasil have been distributed in the U.S. since 2006. It’s unknown how many men have received the vaccine, but health experts don’t expect to see the same rates as among women.
Opening up new markets for a dangerous vaccine.