The sexually transmitted human papillomavirus is not only linked to cervical cancer in women, but more recently it has been linked to oral cancer in men. The vaccine Gardasil is being given to young women and girls, but Merck plans to ask for permission to offer the shot to boys, as well.
There are several reasons to vaccinate boys:
If boys are vaccinated, they are less likely to transmit the virus to women;
HPV can cause genital warts, as well as penile and anal cancer in males;
HPV has been linked to cancer in the tonsils, lower tongue, and upper throat in both genders; and
The rates for those cancers are increasing.
Parents may want to start thinking about the conversations now - how to convince your teenage son that he is willing to get three shots during a year to prevent a disease spread mostly by oral sex will take some thought!