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Missouri Boys Can Get HPV Shots At Clinics

July 22, 2010

ST. LOUIS, MO. - Clinics and health departments throughout Missouri are now offering a vaccine for males that was created to help protect females from certain sexually-associated diseases. Gardasil combats the Human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed during sexual contact and is the main cause of cervical cancer and genital warts.

Some parents don't feel boys are at risk of getting HPV like girls, says Mary Kogut, vice president of patient services for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region, which now offers the vaccine for males ages nine to 26. But, vaccinating boys will protect them and help stop the spread of HPV, she says.

"Two out of every 1,000 men in the U.S. are diagnosed every year with genital warts, and about six million people in the U.S. are infected with HPV each year."

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends Gardisil as part of routine vaccinations for all girls ages 11 to 12, it hasn't yet made the same recommendation for young men, but the vaccine has been deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration. Still, concerns over side effects in a small percentage of patients remain, the most serious of which include blood clots and Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder that causes muscle weakness and tingling that can lead to paralysis.

Kogut says the vaccine should be given before any sexual activity or exposure to HPV, since the drug only prevents, and cannot cure, HPV. However, that's not always an option, she admits.

"Even if folks have started having sexual activity, teens and young adults, it's important to consider getting the vaccine because it may still protect some of the types of HPV that are out there."

The HPV vaccine is expensive and administered in three doses, but is offered at a reasonable price due to a patient assistance program from Merck and Co., the drug's manufacturer.



Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO