November 30, 2011 5:43 AM
Dr. Sue Ellen Abdalian, professor of clinical pediatrics at Tulane School of Medicine, says that she doesn’t understand the controversy surrounding the recommendation that boys receive the vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV). “We now have a vaccine that can prevent cancer — how cool is that?”
In a recent federal ruling, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to recommend that males from 11 to 21 years old receive the HPV vaccination. The virus may cause thousands of cases of cancer among men and women each year.
Controversy surrounds including the HPV vaccine Gardasil as part of routine vaccinations for boys as young as 11. Should preteens and adolescents be vaccinated against an infection that is contracted through sexual activity?
Abdalian says that giving the vaccination to boys as well as girls increases prevention of diseases such as cancers of the throat and sexual organs. In addition to causing cancer, HPV is linked to recurrent respiratory papillomatosis in babies who are born to mothers with HPV. Abdalian says that although people concentrate on the sexual organs when discussing HPV, children born with the disease suffer greatly. Their breathing is tormented, a lifelong condition.
Data suggest that 50 percent of all sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their lives. With the threat of such life threatening diseases, Abdalian says that it just makes sense for parents to be proactive about protection of their children’s health.
“The reality is that at some point in their lives the majority of people become sexually active. It’s smart to receive the vaccine well before that happens,” Abdalian says.
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org