Sixth grade boys of Prince Edward Island will be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus (HPV) as part of a publicly-funded school vaccination program, Canadian officials announced.

The province began giving girls HPV-vaccinations in 2007, with about 85 percent of girls currently vaccinated. Recent success with a nationally-funded vaccination program in Australia gives officials hope that they can eradicate genital warts.

By contrast, only 36 percent of 13-17 year old U.S. girls completed all three doses as of 2011. Many parents choose not to have their daughters vaccinated out of fear it will encourage sexual activity.

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control recommended that males ages 11-21 receive Gardasil, a vaccine that protects against HPV strains that cause both cancer and genital warts. At the time, only 1 percent of boys received all three shots and 8 percent received at least one dose.

Public health officials, parents, and health care providers have been slow to vaccinate boys against HPV for a number of reasons. HPV is commonly associated with cervical cancer, which was once the most common cancer among women. The vaccine's benefits to boys are not widely known. Other cancers caused by HPV, such as anal, penile, head, and neck cancers, are on the rise. Although there is a common screening procedure for precancerous changes due to HPV in girls--the pap smear--no routine screening exists for boys.

Although boys and their parents may be unconvinced that they will benefit from the HPV vaccine, vaccinating boys definitely helps to protect girls. It's no stretch of the imagination to guess who is infecting girls and young women with HPV.