Parents have been hearing a lot about the human papillomavirus, or HPV, vaccine. But what was once designed solely for girls and young women up to the age of 26 to protect them from different strains of the virus, is now also being strongly recommended for younger boys.
Following in the footsteps of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending females and males at 11 to 12 years of age have routine HPV vaccinations.
Doctors say the vaccine is most effective if administered before a child becomes sexually active, and responds better in the bodies of younger children, usually between the ages of 9 to 15.
HPV is known to be the root cause of cervical cancer in women, and HPV can lead to other health problems in both females and males, including genital warts and mouth and throat cancers.
Young men diagnosed with HPV have also developed penile cancer and even anal cancer. These viruses, found primarily in sexually active adolescents and young adults, are the most common sexually transmitted viruses in the United States.
It was also stressed in the AAP recommendations that young men having sex with other young men should be particularly careful and consider being vaccinated.
Penile cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the penis.
The penis is a rod-shaped male reproductive organ that passes sperm and urine from the body. It contains two types of erectile tissue (spongy tissue with blood vessels that fill with blood to make an erection):
Corpora cavernosa: The two columns of erectile tissue that form most of the penis.
Corpus spongiosum: The single column of erectile tissue that forms a small portion of the penis. The corpus spongiosum surrounds the urethra (the tube through which urine and sperm pass from the body).
The erectile tissue is wrapped in connective tissue and covered with skin. The glans (head of the penis) is covered with loose skin called the foreskin.
The policy paper recommended that men 20 to 26 years old who have not been vaccinated for HPV, or who have not completed their series of HPV shots (the vaccine is administered in three doses), should do so as soon as possible. That’s because the CDC estimates about 7,000 HPV associated cancers in the U.S. could be prevented in young men by the HPV vaccine each year.
What is genital HPV infection?
Genital human papillomavirus (also called HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI). There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. These HPV types can also infect the mouth and throat. Most people who become infected with HPV do not even know they have it.
HPV is not the same as herpes or HIV (the virus that causes AIDS). These are all viruses that can be passed on during sex, but they cause different symptoms and health problems.
What are the signs, symptoms and potential health problems of HPV?
Most people with HPV do not develop symptoms or health problems from it. In 90% of cases, the body’s immune system clears HPV naturally within two years. But, sometimes, HPV infections are not cleared and can cause:
Rarely, warts in the throat - a condition called recurrent respiratory papillomatosis, or RRP. When this occurs in children it is called juvenile-onset RRP (JORRP).
Cervical cancer and other, less common but serious cancers, including cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx (back of throat including base of tongue and tonsils).
The types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types that can cause cancers. There is no way to know which people who get HPV will go on to develop cancer or other health problems.
The AAP made their decision based on data provided by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on vaccine efficacy, safety and cost effectiveness.
Although some parents have been reluctant to have their children inoculated with another vaccine because of possible side effects, such as weakness, fever, tingling, itching and hives, researchers say the benefits outweigh the risks.
by CNN NewSource