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December 6th, 2010
08:46 AM ET

Is the HPV shot advised for teen males?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Mondays, it's pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Shu.

Question asked by Natalie of Virginia:

What is the deal with the HPV shot for teen boys? I have heard that is now being advised for males. I have a 15-year-old son.

Expert answer:

Thanks for your question. In October 2009, one HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine, Gardasil, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in males in addition to females from 9 to 26 years of age. For more details about the virus and vaccine, I consulted with Dr. Jill Grimes, author of "Seductive Delusions: How Everyday People Catch STDs." She shared the following thoughts:

"The Gardasil vaccine was officially approved to prevent genital warts in boys, rather than the rare genital cancers (penile and anal) that it also potentially could prevent. Would I give it to my son? You bet. Right now in the United States over 20 million people are infected with HPV, and we see over 1 million cases of genital warts per year.

While it is true that the majority of people (men and women) infected with different strains of HPV never have symptoms, those that do suffer from genital warts may be greatly affected both physically and mentally. The warts themselves do NOT turn into cancer, nor do they overtly cause any other disease. They can grow to be large and cosmetically unsightly, but typically are painless or cause only itching or burning (in 20 percent).

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Unfortunately, they look ugly, and ultimately many people who have genital warts feel very negatively about themselves. Additionally, although 20 percent of warts may resolve without treatment, up to 25 percent return after treatment within the first three months. As one might imagine (especially if you have had a wart frozen on your knee or finger), the treatment itself causes significant physical discomfort as well.

My bottom line is that young people making major decisions about their lives, careers, and life partners have enough stress without adding the burden of potential poor self-image inflicted by a viral disease such as genital warts. The vaccine has been shown to be safe, and I recommend it to my own patients and family members."


soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Informed and healthy

    MISINFORMATION! HPV which causes genital warts DOES become cervical cancer in women causing the deaths of young and older women every year all over the world. Its this kindof misinformation that has caused the alarming numbers in society today. Check out the Centers for Disease Control website
    for more accurate information.

    December 6, 2010 at 10:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Informed and healthy

      And these girls and women are getting it from males who don'e even know they have it, no symptoms may be present.
      Parents, educate yourselves and educate your children ! Don't wait for someone else to do it, it can be life or death for them
      depending on if you care enough to find out the facts.

      December 6, 2010 at 10:18 | Report abuse |
    • rbnlegend

      No. There are many many strains of HPV. If you have had a wart, anywhere on your body, you had HPV. Most strains of HPV only cause warts. A very few strains result in cancers, and those strains are not associated with warts.

      But yes, the women who get cervical cancer, are getting it from men, who have no idea that they are carrying a virus that can kill the women they love. If a woman has cervical cancer, her husband does have HPV, although he doesn't have any symptoms at all. The HPV that is killing her, will not have any symptoms in him. If we could vaccinate men as well as women, we could cut down on the transmission, at least for the most deadly strains.

      December 6, 2010 at 10:34 | Report abuse |
  2. Christina

    INFORMATION: Not all HPV developes into cervical cancer (speaking as the daughter and grand-daughter of HPV induced cervical cancer survivors). There are several strains covered by the vaccine that can cause the cancer to develop and several more non-cancer strains as well. Bottom line, get the vaccine, get your pap yearly, and get your boys the vaccine because whether it develops into cancer or not you don't want to pass it around to others!

    December 6, 2010 at 10:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Ed

    The virus does not care whether someone is male or female. Everyone should get vaccinated. It helps not only those vaccinated, but their partners as well.

    December 6, 2010 at 10:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. oneStarman

    Gardasil for BOYS. If we can give our Boys a vaccine that will prevent them from transmitting HPV to girls whose infection can lead to Cervical Cancer – why WOULDN'T we want to do it?

    December 6, 2010 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lillian

      Because several girls have DIED after getting the vaccine. There are many adverse effects reported with this vaccine. My children will not be getting it.

      I want my children to be safe too, but I don't think that means getting them a chemical-laden shot whose long-term effects are unknown.

      December 6, 2010 at 11:25 | Report abuse |
    • serialshopper10

      Lillian, this is a very uneducated response. There have been deaths reported following the vaccine, BUT, just because someone dies after having it doesn't mean it was caused by the vaccine. They could have died for another reason. There is a risk with ALL vaccines including the one's your children already have had.

      December 6, 2010 at 12:48 | Report abuse |
  5. charles s

    Absolutely boys should be getting this protection. Why would anyone want their children not to be protected? No one knows what will be discovered in the future about the HPV virus but it will certainly be nothing good about it.

    December 6, 2010 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Bob in PA

    Here's why boys should get the vaccine, beyond the excellent points raised thus far. Certain strains of HPV cause throat and mouth cancers in men ages about 25 and up. The HPV sometimes is found in association with other risk factors and sometimes NOT, in those with these cancers. This means men are getting mouth and throat cancers who never smoked or drank in their lives. Don't take my word for it; type HPV and throat cancer into Google and see what you find, and yes, from reputable medical sources.

    December 6, 2010 at 11:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Zee

    I came of age long before we understood the correlation between HPV and cervical cancer, and there was no Gardasil. I acquired asymptomic HPV, and consequently, high grade cervical dysplasia that was one stage away from becoming cancer. I had a hysterectomy to stop it. I will get Gardasil for my daughters, and I encourage every woman to never neglect your yearly PAP. Had I not kept up with my yearly, I would not have known I was brewing cancer until it was too late as I had NO symptoms whatsoever. Most people in their lates twenties and above carry some form of HPV and don't know it.

    December 6, 2010 at 12:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • please vaccinate all young people

      Zee, unless you go both ways, you got your HPV from one or more men. Please vaccinate your boys too. Also, why would anyone take your uterus when your cervix was affected? At pre-cancer, they should have just taken your cervix out at most.

      December 6, 2010 at 13:02 | Report abuse |
  8. Leigh

    Answer this-Can a 24 year old female virgin contract HPV? SPecifically a 24 year old female who is with a 25 year old male who is also a virgin? That is great that everyone is preaching about HPV but that has yet to be answered on the internet

    December 6, 2010 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. specops

    It depends what the word "virgin" means. If really a virgin in all moral applications of the word, then no. But if only a virgin anatomically but has had anal, oral, or genital to genital contact without actual intercourse, then of course she can contract it,.

    December 6, 2010 at 21:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Greg

    If you have private insurance, it is CRUCIAL that you switch to one of the new plans made available after September 23, 2010 because they include free preventative care (like HPV shots), they have no annual or lifetime maximums, and kids don't have to go through underwriting and must be accepted up to age 26 regardless of pre-existing conditions. If you bought your health insurance before September 23, you can get a free quote at usabg.net/ghovey/quote

    December 7, 2010 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply

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