September 15, 2009
The number of people who are able to receive the HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine Gardasil may be about to double. But will the number of people who can afford to get it follow suit?
Gardasil was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006, and as of September 2009 it was indicated for girls and women between the ages of 9 and 26. It protects people from becoming infected with four types of human papillomavirus (HPV), two of which are responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancers worldwide.
But, according to recent research, Gardasil seems to be effective in males as well; it appears to help prevent genital warts, as well as anal cancer, penile cancer and other types of cancers that are potentially caused by HPV.
Since before it was even formally approved for females, activists have been working behind the scenes to get Gardasil approved for males as well. Now, the wait is almost over: An FDA advisory panel recommended on Sept. 9, 2009 that the indication for Gardasil should be expanded to include boys and men ages 9 to 26. Formal FDA approval is expected within the next several weeks.
However, FDA approval is not the end of the road. Next up are hearings at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over whether the federal government should pay for boys and young men to receive this vaccine through government-funded health programs like Medicaid and Veterans Affairs. These hearings will take place Wednesday, Oct. 21, and Thursday, Oct. 22.
You can do your part to help make sure this vaccine will be available to as many boys and young men as possible. AIDS Treatment Activists Coalition (ATAC) is trying to get as many men as it can who have experienced, or lost partners to, anal or penile cancers to consider testifying as to the importance of this vaccine. Here's how you can join the effort:
Your comments can make a difference! At a similar hearing regarding recommendations for Gardasil when the indication was expanded to include young women as well as girls, the public testimony and comments helped convince the hearing committee to recommend federal coverage of Gardasil for young women.