Boys To Men: Unequal Treatment On HPV Vaccine

NPR

December 7, 2010

by Michelle Andrews

The vaccine that prevents 70 percent of cervical cancers got the thumbs up under the health overhaul law as one of the preventive benefits that must be provided free to girls and young women between the ages 9 and 26.

Boys and young men, however, don’t get the same free coverage under the law, even though the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is also approved for the prevention of genital warts in males.

Why the difference? “Genital warts aren’t life threatening,” says Debbie Saslow, director of breast and gynecologic cancer for the American Cancer Society.

Merck, which manufactures one of the two FDA-approved HPV vaccines, is conducting research to see if the vaccine prevents genital cancers in men, says Saslow. In the meantime, though, the vaccine has already been shown to prevent cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in women. “It’s a matter of cost-effectiveness,” says Saslow.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.