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Home HPV and Men HPV and Men Emphasizing Cancer Prevention May Make HPV Vaccines More Acceptable to Men

Emphasizing Cancer Prevention May Make HPV Vaccines More Acceptable to Men

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A new study finds that HPV vaccines are more acceptable to men when presented as preventing both genital warts and cancer.

Merck’s Gardasil® and GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix® vaccines are effective at blocking persistent infections and diseases associated with the two “high risk” HPV types (HPV 16 and 18) associated with cervical cancers. Gardasil also works in preventing infection with well as the non-cancer linked HPV types (HPV 6 and 11) that cause 90% of genital warts. While Gardasil is currently only approved for use with males to prevent genital warts specifically, the “high risk” HPV types covered by the vaccine are also associated with cancers that affect men, including those of the penis, anus, and head and neck.

Gardasil was initially approved in 2006 for use with women, and in 2009 was licensed for males. Given the vaccine is associated strongly with the prevention of gynecologic cancers, a natural question is how best to market it to males.

To examine how men respond to different approaches of “framing” HPV vaccines, researchers conducted an online survey with men ages 18 to 59 who identified as either heterosexual or gay/bisexual. The men were given four scenarios with an unidentified vaccine that included prevention of genital warts alone, or both warts and anal, penile, or oral cancer.

Only 42% of the men said they would have the vaccine when it was presented as preventing warts alone, but those willing to receive the vaccine jumped to 60% when any of the cancers were included. The outcomes were the same regardless of sexual orientation or which of the three cancers were included. The authors say their findings might be helpful as messages about HPV vaccines are developed for males.

Annie-Laurie McRee, Paul L. Reiter, Kim Chantala, and Noel T. Brewer. Does Framing Human Papillomavirus Vaccine as Preventing Cancer in Men Increase Vaccine Acceptability? Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, 2010. 19(8); 1937–44.