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Federal Committee Ponders HPV Vaccines and Anal Cancer

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Man and Woman in Black and White

In late 2010 the Food and Drug Administration approved Merck’s Gardasil® HPV vaccine to prevent anal cancers in males and females. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there about 5,200 new cases (with approximately 700 deaths) each year in the U.S. Women are affected more than men, although men who have sex with men are at higher risk for anal cancers.

Current recommendations issued by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) - the body that advises federal health officials on vaccine-preventable diseases- call for permissive use of HPV vaccines (at a health care provider’s discretion) in males to prevent genital warts. Many public health observers are now speculating on what the potential impact the anal cancer indication may have on future ACIP guidance: the two ACIP meetings held so far in 2011 included a number of discussions about HPV vaccines and anal cancer, including cost-effectiveness and policy considerations for HPV vaccine in males.

More discussions, and possibly a vote on updated guidance, will likely occur at the next ACIP meeting October 25-26, 2011.

 
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