Will Men Get Gardasil?
The Food and Drug Administration is considering whether to approve Gardasil for men. But the question is: Will men be willing to get a vaccine for mostly altruistic reasons?
A new study raises questions about that.
The vaccine protects against the human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common sexually transmitted infection. The virus causes genital warts in men and women and can increase the risk for relatively rare cancers, such as penile and anal cancer, in men. But the most significant health problem HPV causes is cervical cancer in women. Public health experts hope that if the vaccine is approved for men, it could reduce the toll of cervical cancer by reducing the spread of the the virus.
So Mary Gerend of Florida State University and a graduate student surveyed 356 male students, asking them to rate on a scale from 1 to 6 their likelihood of getting the vaccine--with 1 equaling "very unlikely" and 6 equaling "very likely."
The men who were told about the vaccine's potential benefits for their partners were no more likely to say they'd be interested in the vaccine than those who were just told about the benefits for themselves. Both groups had a mean score of just below 4, the researchers reported in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Even those who said they were in committed relationships were no more inclined to get the shots.
Now, the researchers noted that the survey involved college students between the ages of 18 and 20. So it's unclear what they mean by a "committed relationship" at that age. But the researchers say the findings suggest a more forceful education campaign will be needed if the vaccine's manufacturer, Merck, wins approval of the vaccine for men.
It's important to note that other studies have produced more promising results indicating that men might be more inclined to get the vaccine. If you want to read more about all this check out this story, "A Vaccine Debate Once Focused on Sex Shifts as Boys Join the Target Market," I wrote recently about this subject.
June 4, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Cancer , Family Health , Vaccinations , Women's Health
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