Men at “increased risk” of HPV

When I interviewed Dr Anne Szarewski, a clinical consultant at Cancer Research UK, she raised interesting points with regards to the effect that HPV has on men. Ideally, she would vaccinate all the boys with Gardasil and all the girls with Cervarix. Listen to this bit of our interview to find out how and why.

Audio transcript
Anne Szarewski – I’ve always been extremely in favour of vaccinating men for so many reasons. First of all I think on a public health equality basis I think it’s almost outrageous that we actually put all the burden as though it’s only women who transmit a sexually transmitted virus. On a public health message that is just wrong. Secondly, if we don’t vaccinate men then of course the men who have sex with men get nothing because they cannot benefit from the immunity from women, that’s impossible. So we just ignore them. Of course they are at increased risk: anal cancer, penile cancer, genital warts (obviously for them you would use Gardasil I’ve never suggested using anything other than Gardasil for men). I really do believe we should be vaccinating both. And of course now that the evidence is getting stronger for head and neck cancers, all these non-genital cancers associated with HPV, then again the message gets stronger to vaccinate men.

Débora Miranda – But as it is now your position is that the priority should be vaccinating women with Cervarix.

AS – I would not be averse – and I think it could be done – that we could actually vaccinate all the girls with Cervarix and all the boys with Gardasil. I don’t think this is impossible. What would I think then need to be done is they would need to come to an agreement that probably you would stretch the Cervarix schedule to make that 0, 2 and 6 months. I suspect that the Cervarix schedule (it would have to be done in agreement with the companies and everything), but I suspect that the Cervarix schedule could be stretched to become 0, 2 and 6 months so that it would be in line with the Gardasil schedule – and then you would not have a problem of the girls being vaccinated at a different time to the boys. So you would have to make a change, but I think that would be a change that was worth doing. And you wouldn’t mess up the follow-up of the girls because they would still be getting Cervarix.