By Marie McCullough, Inquirer Staff Writer
Does it make sense to vaccinate all boys against a sexually transmitted virus that causes a common cancer they are physically incapable of developing?
An expert government panel last month concluded the answer is yes.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended all U.S. boys ages 11 and 12 be given the cervical cancer prevention vaccine Gardasil, partly to compensate for the “disappointing” usage in girls.
The committee’s other main rationale was that boys may get some protection of their own because the virus, HPV, is linked to anal cancer.
Anal malignancies are ultrarare in men. There were 2,000 new diagnoses and 280 deaths last year, the American Cancer Society estimates. Studies show the most susceptible men are homosexuals who also have the AIDS virus.
A top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hailed the new recommendation as “another milestone in the nation’s battle against cancer.”
Critics called it another milestone in Merck & Co. Inc.’s aggressive Gardasil marketing campaign.