HPV Vaccine: The Safe Choice for Your Kids

Dear Mr. Dad: I have boy/girl twins who are 11. Their pediatrician suggested that my daughter get a vaccine for HPV, but he didn’t offer it to my son. I’ve got three questions. First, why didn’t he suggest the vaccine for my son? Second, why are they offering a vaccine against sexually transmitted diseases to 11-year-olds anyway—isn’t that too early? Third, it seems to me that vaccinating kids against STDs will only make them more likely to have sex and less careful than they ordinarily would be. Am I right?

A: That’s a lot of questions, so let’s jump right in. But a warning: This column will include some adult words, so reader discretion is advised.

Your pediatrician should have recommended the HPV vaccine to your son. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the vast majority of a number of cancers are attributed to HPV. For girls, these include cancer of the cervix or anus (over 90%), vagina and throat (over 75%). Boys are also just as susceptible to anal and throat cancers, plus HPV causes nearly two thirds of cancers of the penis. HPV is also linked with nearly 100% of genital warts—an equal opportunity STD.
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New HPV Vaccine Even More Effective than Before

The Food and Drug Administration just approved Gardasil 9, which covers nine types of HPV (Human Papillomavirus). The previous version of Gardasil covered only 4 types of the virus, which is responsible for many cancers and other conditions. According to the FDA, Gardasil 9 has the potential to prevent approximately 90 percent of cervical, vulvar, vaginal and anal cancers, and genital warts. Current recommendations are that boys and girls be vaccinated starting at age 11. Anyone under 26 who hasn’t been vaccinated should be.

You’d think that with results like that, parents would be lining up to get their children vaccinated. But you’d be wrong. Way wrong. The New York City Health Department found earlier this year that only 47% of boys aged 13-17 and 64% of girls aged 13-17 in have received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine. In order to be most effective, three doses are recommended. But just 40% of girls aged 13-17 and 22% of boys aged 13-17 in New York City have received all three doses. Those numbers varied greatly, depending on the section of the city. In Manhattan, 45.5% to 60.2% of girls aged 13-17 and 15.7% to 26.1% of boys aged 13-17 received all three dose, says the Health Department. But in Staten Island, Central/Southern Brooklyn, and Greenpoint/Williamsburg, just 5.8% to 25.1% of girls aged 13-17 and 0% to 5.9% of boys aged 13-17 had received all three doses.
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Men’s Health Begins with Boys

Boys fingers“Our male youth are in trouble,” says Dennis Barbour, CEO of The Boy’s Initiative. “Their school dropout rates are climbing and they are dropping out of college more than ever. They are failing to adjust to a rapidly changing economy.” Harsh words from a man who really cares about where America’s youth are headed. [Read more...]

HPV: Michael Douglas—and Male Health Advocates—Were Right

A few weeks ago, actor Michael Douglas caused quite a stir by claiming that the throat cancer that nearly took his life was caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), which he contracted while performing oral sex on his wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones. And while Douglas’ statements provoked a lot of jokes, cancer specialists and many other medical […]

Don’t Put off HPV Vaccine for Your Daughter or Son

Human Pappilomavirus (HPV) causes most cases of cervical cancer, as well as penile, anal, and several other cancers. And the CDC recommends the HPV vaccine for all boys and girls ages 11 and 12, teens who didn’t get the vaccine when they were younger, young men up to age 21, and young women up to [...]

Human Oral Papillomavirus—Now There’s a Real Mouthful

Now let’s be clear. Michael Douglas is not a doctor, nor does he play one on TV. But when he recently blamed his bout with throat cancer on having contracted Human Papillomavirus (HPV) from performing oral sex, he may have been on to something. In fact, according to the Oral Cancer Foundation, HPV may be [...]