FDA Panel Backs Giving HPV Vaccine Gardasil to Young Males

But Gardasil has generated controversy, especially with some conservatives and parents' rights groups who contend the vaccine could promote premarital sex.

Gardasil, which was approved for girls in 2006, covers four types of HPV, two of which cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers worldwide.

Since its approval, Gardasil has proven to be safe and nearly 100 percent effective in preventing precancerous cervical lesions from the four HPV strains targeted by the vaccine, according to studies. However, there have been side effects reported that include fainting and blood clotting. Research published last month found that for every 100,000 doses of HPV vaccine distributed, there were 8.2 episodes of fainting and 0.2 episodes involving blood clotting.

Studies have also found that Gardasil is much more effective when given to girls or young women before they become sexually active.

"The reason you give this is to prevent disease, and that's why we start at 11 or 12, before girls are sexually active," said Dr. Lolita McDavid, medical director of Child Advocacy and Protection at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. "About 10,000 American women will get cervical cancer in a year; about 3,700 are going to die from it."

"About 250,000 new case of genital warts appear in males every year," she added. "There certainly seems to be a benefit for males."

Experts hope that making the vaccine available for boys will have additional, non-medical benefits.

"Countless studies show that a lot of shame and stigma almost universally comes with any HPV diagnosis," Wyand said. "That's another factor that weighs into it. Hopefully, approving the vaccine for males would reduce any stigma."

More information

There's more on HPV at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Fred Wyand, spokesman, American Social Health Association, Research Triangle Park, N.C.; Jay Brooks, M.D., chairman, hematology/oncology, Ochsner Health System, Baton Rouge, La.; Lolita McDavid, M.D., medical director, Child Advocacy & Protection, University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland; Jonathan L. Temte, M.D., Ph.D., professor, family medicine, University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and voting member, Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, CDC; briefing materials, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Associated Press

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