Harvard Health Letter

By the way, doctor: Should boys be getting the HPV vaccine?

Q. Why are parents not being urged to get their sons vaccinated for HPV?

A. When the FDA approved the first vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV) in 2006, it was for use only in girls and young women. In 2009, the agency broadened the approval for that vaccine, called Gardasil, to include boys and men between the ages of 9 and 26. The agency also approved a second HPV vaccine in 2009, called Cervarix, for girls and women.

HPV comes in about 100 different strains. About a third of them are sexually transmitted, most often through vaginal or anal intercourse. Gardasil targets two strains, designated by the numbers 16 and 18, which are believed to cause about 70% of cervical cancers, and two others, numbers 6 and 11, which cause about 90% of genital warts. Cervarix targets just HPV-16 and HPV-18.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »