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More protection against cancer: HPV vaccination now also for boys?


The number of men has risen sharply in recent years. Penis tumors are associated with HPV infections, among other things. As reported by the Robert Koch Institute, the Standing Vaccination Committee (STIKO) is therefore examining whether vaccination against human papilloma viruses should also be recommended for boys in the future. This has been recommended for girls for ten years.

STIKO has recommended vaccination for girls for ten years
Since March 2007, the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) has recommended HPV vaccination for girls from the age of 9, with the aim of significantly reducing the number of cervical cancer cases in the future. However, there is currently no HPV vaccination recommendation for boys or young men. However, that could change soon. Because infection with certain types of HPV is a risk factor for the development of some forms of penile cancer. STIKO is currently examining the results of the study to be able to reassess the need for a vaccination recommendation for boys.

Cervical cancer due to high-risk types
Human papilloma viruses (short: HPV) are the most common sexually transmitted viruses in the world. About 40 of the more than 120 known virus types affect the genital organs. A distinction is made between viruses with low health risk (low risk) and those with high risk (high risk).

The former cause benign genital warts on the genitals, and the high-risk viruses are responsible for the development of cervical cancer (cervical cancer). HPV infection occurs most often during sexual intercourse, with sexually active and young people up to the age of 25 being the most affected.

Two active ingredients offer extensive protection
In order to reduce the number of cases of cervical cancer in the future, vaccination against HPV should best be given before the first sexual intercourse on the advice of the RKI. If the vaccination was missed in girls between 9 and 14 years of age, it should be made up to the age of 18 at the latest (i.e. up to the day before the 18th birthday). There are two vaccines available in Germany: Cervarix and Gardasil, both of which protect against high-risk HPV types 16 and 18.

Gardasil also protects against genital warts (low-risk) HPV types 6 and 11, the recently approved further development of the preparation offers protection against a total of nine HPV types. Since about 70 percent of all cervical carcinomas are caused by the two virus types HPV 16 and 18, the vaccines offer extensive protection.

Not 100 percent security
However, there is no such thing as 100% certainty - therefore vaccinated women should also have a screening test carried out regularly. It is also still unknown whether the protection is lifelong and whether or when it needs to be refreshed. According to the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), experts believe that vaccination protection can last more than 20 years.

Fabrics are well tolerated
According to the DKFZ, the vaccines currently used are considered safe and well tolerated. The most common side effects observed - similar to other vaccinations - are skin reactions at the injection site such as redness, itching, mild pain and swelling. Less often, e.g. Headache, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, or hypersensitivity reactions such as difficulty breathing may occur.

One dose is not enough
However, a single vaccination is not sufficient for complete vaccination protection. According to the RKI, the second dose should be administered five to 13 months after the first dose. If vaccination is given earlier than five months after the first vaccination, a third dose is required. The same applies if the first vaccination was carried out from the age of 15 years. All vaccinations should be done with the same vaccine. The same HPV vaccine should be used for the vaccinations if possible, the injection is in the upper arm or thigh muscle.

Studies show effects in boys
Can boys benefit from vaccination against HPV? In order to answer this question and to be able to reassess the need for a vaccination recommendation for boys, STIKO is currently examining the current state of research. According to the RKI, studies had shown that the vaccination had an effect in that boys aged 10 to 15 years had achieved high antibody titers through this. In further studies, "the protective effect of the quadrivalent HPV vaccine against genital warts and precursors of penile and anal cancer in boys and young men was demonstrated," reports the RKI.

Until now, cost reimbursement only for girls
In the case of girls, the costs of the complete vaccination are borne by the health insurance companies if they are still under 18. Some health insurance companies offer full or partial coverage of costs beyond this age limit. Boys have usually not been reimbursed so far. Parents who want to have their sons vaccinated against HPV should therefore check with their health insurance in advance. If STIKO publishes an official vaccination recommendation for boys, the treatment would probably no longer have to be paid for itself. (No)

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Video: Preventing cancer with HPV vaccine (June 2021).