Gardasil for boys advised by US, Canada health authorities: Do you want to protect your son against genital warts? Or are you a sexually active male gay worried that you may get anal cancer?
If you are either, you might be glad to know that the use of Gardasil in males to protect against anal cancer, pre-cancerous lesions and genital warts was endorsed in January (2012) by Canada’s federally appointed panel of experts.
This follows the lead of its counterpart in the United States, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices that voted last fall to strongly recommend the use of HPV vaccines in boys and young men.
Hopefully, in both North American countries, we might see wider use of the HPV vaccines that have been recommended solely for girls and women until now.
In its statement, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization says that the evidence is strong that the vaccine protects males against a number of forms of cancer, pre-cancerous lesions and genital warts that are caused by the human papillomavirus.
It recommends the vaccine’s use in boys and young men nine to 26 years old. It also recommends it for males over the age of nine who have sex with other men. The vaccine isn’t licensed for use in either boys or girls under the age of nine.
The NACI recommendation is specific to Gardasil, the HPV vaccine that protects against four strains of human papillomavirus. Gardasil is produced by drug maker Merck.
The panel says it isn’t yet recommending the competing HPV vaccine, Cervarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline, as it’s still waiting for data proving the vaccine’s efficacy in males.
NACI says the evidence is strong that Gardasil prevents anal cancer, anogenital warts and pre-cancerous anal lesions. It said the evidence is good (Grade B) that the vaccine also protects against penile, perianal and perineal lesions and cancers.
The endorsement paves the way for public acceptance of Gardasil’s use in boys — but it’s no guarantee the vaccine will be added to the list of immunizations given to Canadian residents for free.
“A vaccine can be good and recommended and prevent disease but not be priority for new funding in health care.” explains Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious diseases specialist and a former member of NACI.
The public cost can be significant: Gardasil is expensive and three doses are required. And the vaccine will be competing for funding with a combined vaccine to protect against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox), rotavirus vaccine and a nasal spray flu vaccine for children.
What you should know about Gardasil
To date, it’s the only vaccine that helps protect against the four types of HPV
In girls and young women 9 to 26 years old it helps protect against:
• two types of HPV that cause about 75 percent of cervical cancer cases
• two more types that cause 90 percent of genital warts cases
• 70% of vaginal cancer cases
• up to 50% of vulvar cancer cases
In boys and young men from nine to 26 years old it helps protect against:
• 90 percent of genital warts cases
It helps prevent against anal cancers in both boys/men and girls/women
You can’t get HPV or any disease caused by HPV from Gardasil.
The Gardasil vaccine contains no live virus. Instead, it contains a protein that helps the body’s immune system produce antibodies against HPV—without causing an infection.
Don’t take Gardasil if you have:
• an allergic reaction after getting a dose of GARDASIL.
• a severe allergic reaction to yeast, amorphous aluminum hydroxyphosphate sulfate, polysorbate 80