Q: My girlfriend just got the HPV vaccine. Can I get it too?
A: Not yet, but hopefully soon.
Gardisil, the vaccine against HPV (human papilloma virus) that is given to women to prevent certain types of cervical cancer, has been under extensive testing for use in men since it first came out in 2006. So far, it has been demonstrated to be safe and about 90% effective at preventing genital warts. Scientists and medical professionals have the hopes that it will also reduce the incidence of anal, penile and throat cancers and help further reduce the incidence of cervical cancer. Merck & Co, the company which manufactures Gardisil, just met with a panel of experts in the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week and the panel made a recommendation tht the vaccine be administered to males aged 9-26 years. All that remains now is for the FDA to officially approve their panel’s recommendation. We’ll keep you posted.
Remember, the only way to prevent HPV infection entirely is by remaining abstinent. If you are having sex you are at high risk for contracting HPV sometime during your life. You can lower that risk (but not totally eliminate it) by limiting the number of sexual partners you have and by properly using condoms (and dental dams as appropriate) every time you have sex.
David Lehnus, CNP (OSU SHS)