Gentleman, roll up your sleeves

A federally appointed panel of experts has endorsed use of HPV vaccine in males in Canada, potentially opening the door to wider use of the vaccine in boys and young men.

TORONTO — A federally appointed panel of experts has endorsed use of HPV vaccine in males in Canada, potentially opening the door to wider use of the vaccine in boys and young men.

Until now HPV vaccine in Canada has been recommended solely for girls and women. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization said in a statement published online this week that the evidence is strong — Grade A in NACI-speak — that the vaccine protects males against a number of forms of cancer, pre-cancerous lesions and genital warts.

It recommended use of the vaccine in boys and young men aged nine to 26. It also recommended it for males over the age of nine who have sex with other men. The vaccine is not licensed for use for children of either gender under the age of nine.

The recommendation is specific to Gardasil, the HPV vaccine which protects against four strains of human papillomavirus. Gardasil is produced by drug maker Merck.

There was no recommendation regarding use in males of the competing HPV vaccine, Cervarix, which is made by GlaxoSmithKline. The NACI statement said data proving the vaccine’s efficacy in males is not yet available.

Last fall, NACI’s American counterpart, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, voted to strongly recommend use of HPV vaccine in boys and young men.

NACI’s statement said the evidence is strong that Gardasil prevents anal cancer, anogenital warts and pre-cancerous anal lesions.

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