Dudes: Now Slightly Safer To Try At Home

I have to admit, “how recently he’s had a needle in him” isn’t normally one of the first things I contemplate when considering a potential partner. This might change, though.

The FDA has approved the Gardasil vaccine for men and boys!

The vaccine, given via three doses over a six month period, will cover males ages 9 to 26, protecting against HPV types 6 and 11 (the kind that manifest as genital warts). I’m a little bummed that the vaccine only covers types 6 and 11 in men, when the vaccine for women covers 16 and 18 as well, which can lead to precancerous lesions and cervical cancer. I’d like it if my men were non-precancerous for my pleasure. However, it’s still exciting to see the vaccine approved for use for men, and I hope to start seeing men going out and getting it.

On the other hand, this is WAY overdue. Gardasil for women was initially approved in June of 2006. It should not have taken nearly four years to expand the vaccine to cover men as well.

From a purely selfish standpoint, now most of my friends don’t qualify. 4 years ago, when I was just shy of 21, it seemed like 26 was a perfectly reasonable ceiling. Now I’m only a year out from 26 and most of my friends are over that age mark, yet the majority of us are not in committed monogamous relationships, so an HPV vaccine would be really great. (For those who don’t remember or aren’t in the know, HPV is one of those STDs that isn’t fully prevented by condom use, even if you practice “perfect condom usage.”) We’re talking about a vaccine that can help prevent women from getting cancer–it shouldn’t have taken 4 years to get the vaccine approved for men, and they should be constantly expanding the age range of who can get the vaccine.

I’m happy that they’ve finally got approval for men; I was worried for a while that this would be like the elusive male birth control pill, which keeps getting promised, but never happens (because let’s face it, since us girlfolk have the uterus, it’s totally 100% our responsibility to keep from getting knocked up. The penis is basically irrelevant!). Men and carrying HPV, and if anything, it’s extra important to vaccinate them, because they are less likely to show any symptoms; genital warts represents only a tiny fraction of HPV cases, whereas huge numbers of women will get abnormal pap smear results from HPV. HPV is so prevalent that about 50%–half!–of all sexually active Americans will contact it at some point in their lives. Therefore, it’s absolutely integral that we do what we can to minimize the damages done. In the majority of cases, HPV will be cleaned out by the immune system and you’ll never even show any symptoms, but with such a high percentage of carriers, do you really want to risk ending up with a strain that leads to warts, lesions, or cancer?

Like I said, I’m happy that Gardasil is approved for men. However, it should have happened sooner, and it should be covering more strains. Let’s get on that second part, and while we’re at it, let’s expand the age range of both men and women who can get the vaccine. Then, for the icing on the cupcake, let’s make sure we give access to the vaccine to as many people as possible.

Now that’s a sexy world.

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02/09/2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized.

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