Media Releases

Vaccinating boys plays key role in HPV prevention

July 22, 2013

A look at factors associated with vaccine’s low rate of adoption

TORONTO, ON – Improv­ing vac­ci­na­tion rates against the human papil­lo­mavirus (HPV) in boys aged 11 to 21 is key to pro­tect­ing both men and women, says new research from Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to Pro­fes­sor Peter A. New­man from the Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work.

HPV has been linked to anal, penile and cer­tain types of throat can­cers in men. Since the virus is also respon­si­ble for var­i­ous can­cers in women, vac­ci­nat­ing boys will play a cru­cial role in reduc­ing can­cer rates across the sex­es.

“HPV is the sin­gle most com­mon sex­u­al­ly trans­mit­ted infec­tion,” says New­man, Cana­da Research Chair in Health and Social Jus­tice. “But now a vac­cine is avail­able that can change that and help to pre­vent the can­cers that some­times result.”

Newman’s research grouped data from 16 sep­a­rate stud­ies involv­ing more than 5,000 peo­ple to ana­lyze rates of HPV vac­cine accept­abil­i­ty and exam­ined what fac­tors play a role when deter­min­ing if young men receive the vac­cine.

Vac­ci­na­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly new ones, can have dif­fi­cul­ty gain­ing trac­tion among the cit­i­zens they were devel­oped to help. This prob­lem can be com­pound­ed by a lack of infor­ma­tion, mis­in­for­ma­tion and even con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about the effi­ca­cy and safe­ty of vac­cines. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, says New­man, mis­in­for­ma­tion and unfound­ed vac­cine fears can result in can­cer deaths that could have been avoid­ed with a sim­ple vac­ci­na­tion.

Logis­ti­cal bar­ri­ers can also sti­fle the spread and accep­tance of new vac­cines. Basic imped­i­ments like out-of-pock­et cost, trans­porta­tion to a clin­ic and wait times for the vac­cine can con­tribute to over­all low vac­ci­na­tion rates.

The biggest fac­tor affect­ing male HPV vac­ci­na­tion rates is the lack of a well-estab­lished con­nec­tion link­ing HPV in men to a life-threat­en­ing ill­ness. The cor­re­la­tion between HPV and cer­vi­cal can­cer in women is respon­si­ble for pop­u­lar­iz­ing the vac­cine among young women. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, a sim­i­lar con­nec­tion that would moti­vate males to get the vac­cine has not yet been estab­lished. That needs to change, says New­man.

“The idea of an HPV vac­cine for boys is new in Cana­da and so far it has had a low adop­tion rate,” says New­man. “So we need physi­cians, social work­ers and pub­lic health care insti­tu­tions to be more active con­vey­ing the ben­e­fits of the vac­cine for boys and the pos­i­tive role it can help play keep­ing Cana­di­ans safe and healthy.”

The study can be found online and is avail­able with­out a sub­scrip­tion in the jour­nal Sex­u­al­ly Trans­mit­ted Infec­tions.

Link to study:–050980.short?g=w_sti_ahead_tab


For more infor­ma­tion, please con­tact:

Michael Kennedy
Media Rela­tions Offi­cer
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Office: 416–946-5025