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Why should young men get the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine?

Dr. Martin M. Anderson, MD
Pediatrician

When the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine first came out in 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended it for girls only, since the disease was most closely associated with cervical cancer. Later, additional studies linked HPV to cancers that also affect men. This prompted the FDA to approve the vaccine for boys in 2009.

There are many reasons to give HPV vaccine to males. The vaccine decreases boy's risk of contracting oral, penile and anal cancers related to HPV It makes them less likely to get hard-to-treat warts. Since less than 40% of girls are getting the vaccine, more people can be protected against the disease by also vaccinating boys.

“There are many reasons we want to give HPV vaccine to males,” says Martin Anderson, M.D., director of adolescent medicine at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA. “The vaccine decreases their risk of contracting oral, penile and anal cancers related to HPV, as well as the possibility of contracting hard-to-treat warts. And since less than 40 percent of girls are getting the vaccine, we can ensure more people are protected against the disease by also vaccinating boys.”

HPV is a very common virus in both women and men. HPV can cause anal cancer, mouth/throat (oropharyngeal cancer) and cancer of the penis in men. Every year, there are over 9,300 HPV-related cancers in men.

One HPV vaccine—Gardasil—is recommended by doctors and other health experts for boys at ages 11 to 12.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.