CWR Student’s Forum
Gardisil Vaccine Available for Boys and Men
By Ashley Williams
When it comes to human papilloma virus or HPV, women and girls are only half the equation. There are 30 to 40 types of HPV that will affect 75% to 80% of male and females in their lifetime. For most, HPV clears on its own, but for others certain types can cause cervical cancer in females and males. There is a FDA approved vaccine that could help prevent certain types of cancer in women and now this vaccine is available for boys and men.
The HPV vaccine Gardisil is the only FDA approved HPV vaccine that helps protect against 4 types of HPV in girls and young women ages 9 to 26. It helps guard against 2 types of virus strands that cause about 75% of cervical cancer cases and 2 more types that cause 90% of genital warts cases. Now in boys and young men ages 9-to 26, the vaccine helps protect against 90% of genital warts.
HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted disease that most will overcome with no ill effects. But in some people, infections lead to cellular changes that cause warts or cancer, including cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers in women and anal cancers in men and women. A growing study suggests that HPV also causes throat cancers in men and women as a result of oral sex.
According to the Center for Disease Control these infections cause about 15,000 cancers in women and 7,000 cancers in men each year. While cervical cancer rates have plummeted over the past four decades because of widespread screening, anal cancer rates in men and women have been increasing.
The burden of disease in males’ results mostly from oral or anal sex, but vaccinating boys will also benefit female partners since cervical cancer in women results mostly from vaginal sex with infected males.
Administered to college women for free Guardisil is now also available to young men 18-26 at most college campuses.
Jessica Moset, a third year biology student says she was vaccinated when she turned 19.
“I had heard about the vaccine a while ago but was still anxious to see if there were any side effects. But when I talked with my doctor I realized it was worth it.”
“I know tons of guys that don’t know about the vaccine that should,” said Joseph Williams, fourth year psychology major from Jacksonville, Florida.
“I think this vaccine is just what we needed, nobody likes to talk about STD’s or viruses but this vaccine could save a lot of people’s lives in the long run.”
William’s said he was vaccinated last month and has been informing his friends about the process of the vaccination. “Most of my guys friends were in denial or just didn’t want to hear me out but after I got the vaccination myself and I told them it was free at the campus clinic they opened up to it a little bit more,” said Williams.“I believe getting vaccinated is as important as getting an HIV test, only the vaccine can protect you against certain cancers.”
According to an article in the NY Times, the vaccine loses effectiveness if it is given after the onset of sexual activity. More than one in five boys and girls have had vaginal sex by the age of 15, but there are many strains of HPV, and Gardasil protects against four of those strains. Older boys and young men may receive the vaccine even after becoming sexually active in hopes that it might protect them against an HPV strain they have yet to encounter.
“It is very important to get the vaccine, it helps fight against cervical cancer in women and prostate cancer in men,” said Bridgette Jefferson, student liaison with student health services at Florida A&M University.
“The vaccine became available for men about six months ago,” Jefferson said. “We are seeing an increase in the number of men slowly rise, but I think that over time more men will be coming to get vaccinated.”
“When they guys come into the clinic the nurses try to persuade them to sign up for the program and get the vaccine for free, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t,” said Jefferson.
Women and men who are interested in receiving the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, but cannot afford the $360 price tag, no longer need to worry. There are several programs available to help cut the costs of the vaccine. For some qualifying people the vaccine can be given for free. If you are uninsured or your insurance provider does not cover Gardasil, there are several ways you can get the HPV vaccine for free or at a reduced cost. The Merck Vaccine Patience Assistance Program offers a vaccine assistance program to women and now men who want to get Gardasil but cannot afford it.
To qualify for the program, you must be at least 19 years of age, be uninsured, reside in the United States, and have an annual income less than $20,800 for individuals. Visit the Merck website for more information.
Other ways to get assistance for paying for Gardasil are Planned Parenthood, your college or university medical clinic or your local health department.