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Medical News

Despite Approval, Evident Roadblocks to HPV Vaccine for Males Continue

October 28, 2009

Although Merck & Co.'s Gardasil human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine received U.S. regulatory approval recently for use in males ages 9-26 to prevent genital warts, males still face barriers to receiving the shots. Gay and bisexual men are 17 times more likely to develop HPV-related anal cancer than heterosexual men, according to CDC. The virus has also been linked to genital warts and to cancers of the mouth, head, neck and penis.

But while HPV shots are approved for women and girls, and recommended for girls ages 11-12, they are not recommended for the routine vaccination of men. It is not clear whether private insurers will decide to cover HPV immunizations for men. The federal Vaccines for Children program will be able to cover Gardasil for males up to age 18. Merck also has an assistance program for men without insurance.

For one 24-year-old gay man, Eric Zaurino, the upshot meant paying out of pocket for Gardasil. "Men still get HPV," Zaurino said. "I have some friends who have and have had to have surgery because of it, and I never want to experience that.

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Some doctors and patients see Gardasil access barriers for males as a double standard. With vaccination rates for women still low, "Vaccinating men would not only help protect women but it would protect the men themselves," said Dr. Stephen Goldstone of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Health providers specializing in care for the LGBT community see the issue of access as another disparity for a historically excluded group. "We've been traditionally invisible to all sorts of regulators everywhere," said Dr. Gal Mayer of the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. "We know for certain that five to 10 percent of boys growing up are going to be men who have sex with men when they get older."

Back to other news for October 2009

Adapted from:
NY1.com
10.26.2009


  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 
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