Canadian immunization committee recommends HPV vaccine for boys

Peter Baklinski
Life Site News
January 30, 2012
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OTTAWA, Ontario, January 30, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Current sexual practices in Canada among boys as young as 9 years of age have motivated the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to recommend the use of Gardasil to immunize males against the human papilloma virus (HPV) as well as diseases that include genital warts, anal cancer, and pre-cancerous anal lesions.

In a statement Dr. Franziska Baltzer, spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Adolescent Health (CAAH) and Division Head, Adolescent Medicine, Montreal Children’s Hospital, expressed support for the NACI recommendations.

“Both genders contribute to the spread of HPV and develop diseases as a result of HPV infection. To eliminate those diseases, we need to vaccinate males as well as females,” she said.

The NACI recommendation that boys and men be immunized against certain strains of HPV was not based on any evidence that such immunization would inhibit the spreading of the virus between males and females. The authors of the NACI report state that “[a]t this time, there are no studies that directly demonstrate that HPV vaccination of males will result in less sexual transmission of vaccine-related HPV types from males to females and in reduced incidence of cervical cancer.”

NACI has also recommended Gardasil for men active in the homosexual lifestyle.

“Compared to the general population, MSM [males who are sexually active with males] have disproportionately high burden of HPV infection, particularly vaccine-preventable high-risk types 16 and 18,” the NACI report states.

“Infection with high-risk HPV types in particular increases the risk of anal intraepithelial neoplasia (AIN) and is associated with cancer of the anus, particularly among MSM who are HIV-positive. Early receipt of Gardasil would confer maximum benefit, particularly since MSM may become infected with HPV more rapidly due to the high rate of infection in the population.”

The NACI recommendation adds to a previous recommendation that young girls and women be vaccinated against HPV with Gardasil.

Wesley J. Smith, senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, told LifeSiteNews that promoting the vaccine as a “purely medical recommendation” may not take into account the moral values of the people the vaccine seeks to serve.

“It should be up to the parents to decide. If a parent believes, ‘you know, if I give my son or my daughter this vaccine, I’m basically telling them that I expect them to have sex outside of marriage, and therefore I am not going to give my child that vaccine’ that seems to me to be wholly in the purview of the parents.”

For Smith, a vaccine program becomes problematic when society or government attempts to coerce parents into getting a certain vaccine for their child. 

Smith said that he believes given the difference between a virus such as measles and the human papilloma virus, the HPV vaccine should never become mandatory. Whereas measles is a highly contagious virus that is communicable simply by being physically close to an infected person, HPV can only spread through a certain kind of activity, namely sexual activity.

Critics of the Gardasil have also pointed out that the HPV vaccine only aims at preventing infections caused by a minority of the more than 100 different kinds of HPV strains, and that the health effects have not been carefully studied.

Some critics have questioned the real-world efficacy of the vaccine.