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Home HPV and Men HPV and Men HPV Vaccine and Men

HPV Vaccine and Men

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In December 2008, Merck filed an application asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to review the company’s HPV vaccine, Gardasil®, for use with males.

Gardasil® covers the two “high risk” HPV types associated with a number of anogenital cancer and the two “low risk” types found with most genital warts. The vaccine is currently approved for use with females ages 9-26, and recent clinical trials indicate the vaccine prevents 85% of persistent HPV infections in males. If HPV vaccines are green-lighted for use with men, getting the word out about the virus, and the diseases it causes, will likely be key in getting males vaccinated.

A study led by Devamalar Simatherai examined vaccine acceptance among men who have sex with men (MSM) attending a sexual health clinic in Melbourne, Australia.  200 men in this study completed a questionnaire designed to gauge knowledge and attitudes around HPV and HPV vaccines. Only 30% of the men knew an HPV vaccine exists but upon learning that “high risk” HPV types cause anal cancer, nearly half the men said they would be willing to receive the vaccine and pay for it out of pocket.

Given the opportunity to receive free vaccine, over 93% of the subjects said they’d be willing to share their sexual orientation with a healthcare provider. However, willingness to do this was at a median age of 20 years, two years after the age at which most men in this study report becoming sexually active. The authors conclude a priority in implementing an HPV vaccine program among MSM is getting “needles in the arm” before the onset of sexual activity.

The importance of HPV education was also underscored in results from a study led by Derron Farris, MD, that examined variables associated with HPV vaccine acceptance among men. The study found younger men and those who have never had sex were more likely to be undecided about the vaccine. When examining sexual history of respondents, those with more than 10 lifetime partners were most likely to want the vaccine. The authors say that virgins may be less aware of HPV and perhaps don’t understand the potential benefits of the vaccine. Given the vaccine is likely to be more effective if given prior to the onset of sexual activity and exposure to HPV, the researchers point out that educating younger men about HPV and the value of the vaccine will be critical.

Giuliano A,Palefsky J, et al.  The efficacy of the quadrivalent HPV (types 6/11/16/18) vaccine in reducing the incidence of HPV infection and HPV-related genital disease in young men. 2008 EUROGIN meeting. Nice, France.
Daron G. Ferris, MD, Jennifer L. Waller, PhD, Jeremiah Miller, Pratik Patel, George A. Price, Lanier Jackson and Courtesia Wilson. Variables Associated With Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine Acceptance by Men. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine 22 (1): 34-42 (2009)
Devamalar Simatherai , Catriona S Catriona , Christopher K Fairley,Matiu Bush,Stella Heley, and Marcus Y Chen. What men who have sex with men think about the human papillomavirus vaccine. Sex Transm Infect. Published Online First: 19 January 2009. doi:10.1136/sti.2008.032581