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Just How Idiotic Is The Argument To Vaccinate Only Gay-Seeming Boys Against HPV?

Supporters of vaccinating boys against HPV as a means to prevent certain forms of cancer (including anal) are apparently considering whether all young men should receive the treatment, or just the gay and bisexual ones. Given these boys could be as young as nine, that presents some issues!

MSNBC reports that next week a Food and Drug Administration panel will choose whether to recommend vaccinating boys against HPV is a wise move, just as they did for young girls after research showed HPV can lead to cervical cancer. But in men, HPV can lead to anal cancer, so it makes sense to vaccinate guys too, right? Except people must receive the vaccination before they’re exposed to the virus for it to work, and that means before they start sexual activity. Which means telling parents that, just in case their sons turn out gay, let’s stick needles in them so they don’t end up with HPV in their butts and anal cancer later on.

Tough sell.

If [the vaccine is] approved, it creates a dilemma, say panelists charged with the new decision. Do they opt for a targeted vaccine aimed only at gay and bisexual males? Do they support a universal vaccine for men and boys, perhaps as young as age 9? Or do they continue to exempt males from vaccination altogether? “It’s a conundrum,” said Dr. James Turner, immediate past president of the American College Health Association and a liaison to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). “The conundrum is many times boys or teenagers don’t really fully understand or clarify their sexual orientation for years.”

That means a vaccine targeted to young men who know they’re gay or bisexual likely wouldn’t reach many of the males who may need it, or reach them early enough. With boys, as with girls, the HPV vaccine is most effective when it’s given before sexual activity exposes people to the virus, health experts say. “In general, targeted vaccine programs based on risk factors tend not to be nearly as effective at reaching that population as universal vaccination in that group,” said Turner. In addition, there’s the danger that the stigma of a vaccine aimed only at young gay and bisexual boys and men would hinder use. “I’m advocating it for all boys,” said Turner.

Well no shit. Because just as we’ve learned that a five-year-old boy dressing up as a girl for Halloween doesn’t make him gay, it’s basically impossible to find every little boy who’s going to end up gay later in life. Or at least having butt sex with other dudes. And vaccines are only as strong as their weakest link, so letting tens of thousands of young men begin sex lives without the vaccination opens the possibility of the continual spread of HPV to non-vaccinated men.

In the general population some 1.6 people per 100,000 develop anal cancer. In men who have sex with men, it jumps to 40 per 100,000.

The science clearly outweighs any “political” debate, because this isn’t a political one. It’s a medical issue, with a clear answer. Getting your son vaccinated against HPV doesn’t make him gay, or any more likely to be gay. But just in case god handed your family the 1-in-10 lottery, why not play safe?

Because of cost, mainly. The vaccinations are expensive. One way to cut costs? Targeted treatments. And there’s apparently some research to back up the argument: “a new study by a Harvard University researcher that showed a targeted HPV vaccination of men who have sex with men is likely to be a cost-effective way to prevent deadly disease specifically in that population.”

But let’s be honest: The real fear is with parents — or the medical community’s belief about parents — rejecting the idea their sons need to be vaccinated against HPV, because there’s no way they’re raising queers. And that’ll remain an uphill battle.

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  • Mike in Asheville

    Just how idiotic is a headline that makes no sense?

  • Anal Cancer Survivor

    a) women get anal cancer too
    b) presumably they get it from HPV, which they’re contracted sexually, and presumably from men, not gay. but maybe bisexual, usually heterosexual
    c) men who get anal cancer don’t necessarily have sex with men: HPV (which CAUSES the cancer and is what the vaccine is made from) is spread by direct contact, and what is called field contamination: if you have HPV, it’s on the skin as well as the mucosa. Hands from touching can pass it. Rubbing can pass it: i,e. you don’t have to be gay to get it in your ass.
    d) the vaccine prevents HPV, and both cervical and anal cancer, but
    e) the only studies on men so far have been in gay and bisexual men, where HPV is more prevalent, and
    f) which is why the FDA is waffling about broader indications for all men, since they’re saying ‘there is no date in heterosexual men and HPV and the vaccine’, but
    g) at least people are talking about anal cancer, and the fact that it is on the increase, with 5,000 new cases each year now, so
    h) anal cancer rates are the same now, as cervical cancer rates were before the Pap Smear became standard early detection and prevention care.
    So it is a no brainer, FDA: vaccinate the herd, as the epidemiologists call the general population: wipe it out.

  • Anal Cancer Survivor

    @Anal Cancer Survivor:
    ‘data: that should be ‘there is no data in heterosexual men and HPV vaccine’

  • Lamar

    So men can be potentially be killed by HPV too but currently only women have access to it for free but it’s “a man’s world”. That phrase is so true especially when things like this happen. Men should have just has much right to the vaccine for free as much as women. Sexism does not only affect women contrary to popular belief.

  • edfu

    This is ridiculous.

    What causes cervical cancer in women? HPV.

    How do women become infected with HPV?

    From their heterosexual male sex partners.

    Vaccinating all pre-pubescent boys protects women from contracting HPV and cervical cancer and protects gay men from contracting anal HPV and anal cancer.

    It’a win-win.

  • mike

    I’m 16 and my parents made me get vaccinated. I’m glad they’re not as short-sighted and ignorant as most others.

Comments are closed.