It’s been a few years now since Canada launched its $300 million human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination campaign, but according to specialists attending a conference on HPV in Montreal this week, it may be a long time before the vaccine is available to Canadian males.
"If we have a high coverage in girls we can also protect the boys because it’s a sexually transmitted disease," Marc Brisson, Canadian research chair in mathematical modelling at Laval University, told the Canadian Press. "In countries like Canada, it’s not cost effective."
Well, hang on a minute’that’s a bit of a risky attitude, isn’t it? As long as Canadian women are vaccinated, men should be OK? Not to mention that it puts an unfair amount of pressure on young Canadian women to get the vaccine’after all, it’s not just their health that depends on it. But what about young women who don’t receive the vaccine? And what about young men who want to be proactive and protect themselves, rather than relying on the decisions of their sexual partner(s)?
While HPV is the primary cause of most cervical cancers‘ admittedly a women’s health issue’it has also been linked to cancer of the anus, penis and throat. Conference chair Mark Steben, a medical adviser with the Quebec Institute of Public Health, noted that some early studies have shown that the vaccine appears to help protect against anal cancer.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization and the Canadian Immunization Committee are currently investigating the possibility of expanding the vaccine to young men aged nine to 26. In the meantime, parents can choose to have male children vaccinated by purchasing the vaccine themselves.
What do you think? Should boys be given the same access to the HPV vaccination as girls? Would you be in favour of your child receiving the vaccine?