Mandating that young girls be given the HPV vaccination has certainly been a controversial topic in recent months, but now a panel is recommending that boys be given the vaccine as well. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that doing so can protect against both anal and throat cancers, The New York Times reports.
The suggestion is likely to be controversial. In 2006, the same panel urge that girls between 11 and 26 should be given the vaccine to protect against cervical cancer, but some bristled at the stance because it protects against a virus that is the result of sexual activity. The controversy may only grow since the virus is only likely to impact men who have homosexual sex. Regardless of the one's political or religious stance, health experts are shocked that there has been any criticism at all.
"This is cancer, for Pete's sake," Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of the department of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told the Times. "A vaccine against cancer was the dream of our youth."
The panel's suggestion is that boys between 11 and 12 get the vaccination and is crucial because private insurers will only cover the costs of the vaccine if the group recommends it for regular use. It also seems logical given that HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States, with between 75 and 80 percent of people becoming infected at some point.
One of the most outspoken opponents to the vaccination has been presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann, who criticized fellow Republican Rick Perry for mandating that girls in Texas get the vaccination. According to the Los Angeles Times, scientists have since debunked her claim that the injections cause "mental retardation."