The human papilloma virus (HPV) is a common sexually-transmitted disease that has been found the cause cervical cancer in woman and certain cancers in men. The virus also causes genital warts.
Since the groundbreaking discovery and authorisation of an HPV vaccine, the Australian Government has provided free vaccinations for all female high school students. The most recent development in this story is the inclusion of males in the vaccine administration.
The vaccine has been available to girls aged 9-26 for about three years. The inclusion of boys is a request from the vaccine's maker itself, CSL. By protecting boys from HPV, the vaccination, Gardasil, will also, by extension, help prevent its transmission to girls. Gardasil's use on males in the same age bracket was approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) last week.
Jenny McCloskey, a sexual health physician and researcher, said that the approval was a significant health breakthrough. In addition to protecting health, the vaccine will also save on healthcare costs. Treating genital warts-not to mention cervical cancer-is expensive.
"All the HPV research has been done on women because cervical cancer is so common [in females]." Dr. McCloskey added that because all the resources were channeled towards designing and testing a vaccine for women, "the research in men worldwide is about 10 years behind".
"It's enormously exciting that we can now prevent such serious diseases in both men and women."
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