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CDC Says All Boys 11 Years and Up Should Be Protected Against Oral and Anal Cancers With HPV Shots

Thu., Oct. 27, 2011 8:18 AM EDT
by Kathleen Cross

Parenting in the 21st century presents dilemmas our own parents and grandparents never had to consider.

Buy a cellphone for your 6-year-old?

Let your 8-year-old play  X-box online with strangers?

Give your 11-year-old a shot to protect him against an STD?

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says boys as young as 9, and all young men, should be vaccinated against human papillomavirus, or HPV, to protect against anal and throat cancers that can result from eventual sexual activity with an infected partner.

HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted disease — between 75 percent and 80 percent of females and males in the United States will be infected at some point in their lives. Most overcome the infection with no ill effects, but HPV infections can lead to cellular changes that cause warts or cancer, including cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in women and anal cancers in men and women. HPV is also believed to cause throat cancers in men and women who contract the virus through oral sex.

HPV infections cause about 15,000 cancers in women and 7,000 cancers in men each year, and HPV-related head and neck cancers are on the rise , perhaps because oral sex has increased in popularity.

The recommendation from the CDC is that beginning at age 11, all boys should be vaccinated. Though HPV disease in males results mostly from oral or anal sex, vaccinating boys produces the added benefit of protecting  female partners since cervical cancer in women results mostly from vaginal sex with infected males.

More than one in five boys and girls have had vaginal sex by the age of 15, surveys show. But there are dozens of strains of HPV.  The currently available HPV vaccine, Gardasil,  protects against only four of those strains.

Gardasil is a relatively new product, so there is no telling what the future holds as far as possible negative side effects.

It is parenting decisions like this one that make it clear that the excesses of the sexual revolution have brought modern society a lot more than “freedom.” –kathleen cross

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