A new vaccine
aimed at halting the spread of a common sexually
transmitted virus that can lead to cervical cancer should
eventually be given to both sexes, doctors said on
Merck's Gardasil, was licensed in June by the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration for use in women and
girls 9 to 26 years of age. It protects against four
types of the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV
or human wart virus.
advisory committee agreed a month ago to recommend the
vaccine for girls aged 11 and 12, girls and women aged 13 to
26 who have not yet received the vaccine and women who
have had abnormal Pap smears, genital warts, or
certain other conditions.
associate professor in gynecologic oncology at the
University of California, Irvine, said the best use of the
vaccine would include giving it to girls and boys and
all women and men, regardless of their individual risk
"We need to move
toward a paradigm where this is a universal vaccine,"
he said in a commentary published in the latest issue of
the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
But some groups
oppose requiring the shots for school attendance, saying
parents should decide whether to immunize their children
against a sexually transmitted virus.
Men can pass on
the virus to their sexual partners, so it makes sense to
vaccinate boys against HPV, and it would also protect them
from genital warts, Monk said. He dismissed the
argument that vaccinating people against a sexually
transmitted disease would encourage promiscuity.
"Just because you
wear a seat belt, does that mean you drive recklessly?
Or just because you give your son a tetanus shot, does that
mean he is going to go out and step on a rusty nail? Of
course not," Monk said.
also is developing a vaccine against HPV strains, which
infect about half of sexually active adults sometime during
their life. The virus is usually harmless but can lead
to abnormal cells in the cervix lining that can turn
cancerous. It can also cause cancer of the penis.
"To have a
vaccine that prevents cancer and not use it would be one
of the greatest tragedies," Monk said. (Reuters)