Andrew M. Seaman
Original Article: reut.rs/1BhXwBm
Many young men who report having sex with other young men have the human papillomavirus (HPV) that can lead to genital warts and anal cancer, according to a new study from Australia.
The results, based on men as young as 16, suggest that vaccination could help lower infection rates in this population. The findings also strengthen the U.S. recommendation that all children ages 11 and 12 years old receive the series of shots to prevent HPV, said one expert.
“It suggests that gender-neutral vaccination is important,” Noel Brewer told Reuters Health by phone. “Parents should get HPV vaccination for their children whether they’re boys or girls.”
Brewer, who wrote an editorial about the new study in The Lancent Infectious Diseases, is an expert on the HPV vaccine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
HPV vaccination is most beneficial when given to people before they are sexually active, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Brewer said it would be nearly impossible to target only high-risk boys and girls for vaccination.
“Most young people don’t know they’re gay yet,” he said. “If they do, they likely haven’t told their parents.”
Researchers already knew that HPV infections are common among gay and bisexual men, but less was known about infection rates in younger age groups. Data on adolescent infection rates are needed to create effective vaccination programs, the researchers write.
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