Q: I've heard that the
A: Yes, the quadrivalent HPV4 (brand name Gardasil)
HPV is a dangerous, sexually transmitted
While men obviously cannot get cervical cancer, they can carry HPV and spread it to their partners. HPV is very common. About 50 percent of the population, both men and women, develop an HPV infection.
Many people who carry HPV never have signs or symptoms, and they don't know they have it. By vaccinating boys against HPV, we are helping to protect women from developing cervical cancer.
The HPV4 vaccine can help prevent HPV infection, cancers and warts. The vaccine is given as a series of three shots over six months. For the vaccine to be effective, a person needs to receive all three doses before being exposed to HPV infection.
Vaccinating boys against HPV when they are 11 or 12 is good timing. At that age, children's bodies respond to vaccines better than they do later in life. Three doses appear to give lifelong immunity. In addition, many older teenagers are sexually active. Vaccines are most effective if they're given before the individual is at risk of being exposed to HPV.
The HPV vaccine has been proven safe. The process it went through before being approved by theU.S. Food and Drug Administrationwas extensive. Since then, more than 60 million doses of HPV vaccine have been given and closely monitored. A wealth of data supports the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.
In the past, there was concern that HPV vaccine could lead to Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological disorder. That was fully investigated, and no association was found. In addition, there's absolutely no evidence to support claims that the HPV vaccine causes mental retardation.
What about girls?
The CDC recommends girls 11 to 12 years of age receive either the HPV2 or the HPV4 vaccine. HPV2 is not licensed for boys or men.
Dr. Robert Jacobson is part of Community Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine,