Push to Use HPV Vaccine on Boys Stirs Debate

Is pricey STD prevention necessary?
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2009 8:58 AM CDT
Lauren Fant, left, 18, winces as she has her third and final application of the HPV vaccine administered by nurse Stephanie Pearson at a doctor's office Tuesday, Dec. 18 2007, in Marietta, Ga.   (AP Photo/John Amis)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – Merck is pushing the FDA to approve its HPV vaccine for men, and that’s raising a whole new set of controversies, the Washington Post reports. When the human papillomavirus vaccine was originally marketed for girls, many questioned whether or not it would encourage young girls to have sex. With boys on the receiving end, the debate has centered on whether or not the pricey treatment—it costs around $500—is cost-effective, safe, or necessary.

“We are still more worried about the promiscuity of girls than the promiscuity of boys,” complained one women’s studies professor. "There's still that double standard." Its new use is also raising the issue of cost: HPV can lead to cervical cancer in women, but the chance it will cause cancer for men is much lower, leading some to question its value. "I wonder if it was the reverse, and there was a vaccine for women that helped prevent prostate cancer in men, this would be as much of an issue," said a professor.