The Grapevine

CDC Committee Updates HPV Vaccine Recommendation For Men

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main cause behind gential warts and more frighteningly, cervical cancer. Specifically speaking, HPV types 16 and 18 cause 70 percent of all cervical cancer cases and pre-cancer cervical lesions, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that so far, there is no recommended medical test for men to check for the presence and status of HPV viruses. The CDC statistics said that 1,500 men are estimated to get anal cancer and 400 men are estimated to get penile cancer related to HPV every year. 

Generally, boys and girls aged 11 to 12 are supposed to take two dosages of the vaccine before becoming sexually active. Previously, women could take an extra third dosage till the age of 26 while men may do so up to the age of 21. In a landmark recommendation, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to allow HPV vaccination for men up to the age of 26, similar to the rule for women, according to CNN.  This is primarily because cancer can be prevented by increasing the age restriction of the third vaccination for men. 

In another recommendation, adults aged between 27 and 45 could explore the possibility of vaccination, too. However, they have to consult their personal physician about this matter, the committee said. The ACIP meets thrice a year to review scientific data on various diseases and it warned people older than 45 against HPV vaccination since more research is still pending. One member of the committee said older people do not need it, reported The Washington Post.

Around 80 million Americans are living with one of the 100 HPV viruses that remain dormant but pass through the system within two weeks to a year. Every year, there are 33,700 cases of cancer in men and women, all occuring as a result of the HPV virus. An HPV vaccine, Gardasil 9, immunizes the body against 9 HPV types and 7 of them cause 90 percent of HPV-related cancers. The results have been promising as evidenced by studies.   

New Learnings

An extensive review and meta-analysis published on June 26 in The Lancet is one such study that emphasized the positive impact of HPV vaccination. The papers reviewed by the researchers were published between Feb. 1, 2014, and Oct. 11, 2018. The team included studies that had up to 8 years of post-vaccination followups. 

In their findings, the researchers noted that the pervasiveness of the cancer-causing strains, specifically HPV 16 and 18, had reduced by 83 percent among girls aged 13 to 19. Likewise, incidences of HPV-related cancers for women aged 20 to 24 were decreased by 66 percent, while the prevalence of HPV was reduced by 37 percent for women in the age group of 25 to 29. 

HPV vaccine The HPV vaccine is effective for men up to 26 years of age, recommended a CDC committee after two days of extensive deliberations on June 26, 2019. Photo courtesy of Pan American Health Organization