Head To Head

Should boys receive the human papillomavirus vaccine? Yes

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b4928 (Published 07 December 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b4928
  1. Sam Hibbitts, lecturer in HPV infection and cervical neoplasia
  1. 1HPV Research Group, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF14 4XN
  1. hibbittssj{at}cf.ac.uk

    Many countries have implemented HPV vaccination programmes for girls. Sam Hibbitts argues that they will not be fully effective unless extended to boys, but Kate Cuschieri (doi:10.1136/bmj.b4921) says the benefit is insufficient

    A vaccination programme should target and stop transmission of the causative agent in order to prevent all associated diseases. The striking flaw in human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programmes is the focus on prevention of cervical cancer. What has been overlooked is that HPV infections are responsible for a range of non-cervical diseases in both sexes that have serious morbidity and contribute to a substantial healthcare burden. HPV vaccination of boys alongside girls would facilitate the eradication of HPV and protect boys from infection, reduce transmission, increase herd immunity, and effectively prevent HPV associated diseases. Limiting HPV vaccination to girls will not lead to eradication.

    Benefits of HPV vaccination

    Two HPV vaccines are available: Gardasil targets HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 and Cervarix targets HPV types 16 and 18. Gardasil has US Food and Drug Administration approval for use in males (9-26 years), and HPV vaccines induce an equivalent immune …

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