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HPV: boys allowed.

Since Gardasil, the first vaccine to target four strains of the human papillomavirus, including two known to cause around 75% of cervical careers, received approval in 2006 from the Food and Drug Administration, at least 20 states have considered making the drug mandatory for school-age girls--to be most effective, the vaccine should preode initiation of sexual activity, he same two HPV strains that cause most cervical cancers have also been linked to anal cancel but similar consideration has not been granted boys, even though about 60% of HIV-negative men and more than 90% of HIV-positive men have HPV in their anal canals. Why the discrepancy?

"Some people want to see all the evidence before jumping on the bandwagon," says physician Joel Palefsky of the University of California. San Francisco. who is studying the efficacy of Gardasil in the prevention of anal cancer and warts. "But there's enough biological similarity between the anus and the cervix that [giving boys Gardasil is] worth being done."

Although the number of HIV-negative men who contract anal cancer is relatively low--just 35 for every 100,000--that was the rate of cervical cancer in women before annual Pap smears became de rigueur, which is why doctors like Palefsky now recommend routine anal Pap smears (more palatably, anal cytology screenings) to detect HPV.

Everyone who has and intercourse is at risk and because condoms don't cover the base of the penis, pubic hair; or sciotum--all places HPV is routinely found--you're not protected even if you use protection.

And since Gardasil prevents HPV but doesn't treat it, giving boys the drug before they be come sexually active with other boys is imperative. While that idea would likely cause even greater controversy than treating girls, at least one powerful stakeholder--Merck, the drugs maker--would presumably be in favor of equal treatment. The pharmaceutical giant would instantly double its revenue--at a current rate of $360 for a series of three injections.
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Author:Kroll, Morgan
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:Apr 24, 2007
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