A US government advisory panel has urged boys to get vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cancer.
All boys aged 11-12 should get the HPV vaccine, which is already approved for use in girls, said the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).
Advertisement"The HPV vaccine will afford protection against certain HPV-related conditions and cancers in males, and vaccination of males with HPV may also provide indirect protection of women by reducing transmission of HPV," it said in a statement.
A press conference to describe the recommendations was scheduled for 12:45 pm (1645 GMT).
If the CDC accepts the panel's recommendations, all insurance companies would be required to cover it. Vaccines against HPV are made by Merck and GlaxoSmithKline.
Kenneth Bromberg, Chairman of Pediatrics and director of the Vaccine Research Center at The Brooklyn Hospital Center, said increasing awareness of HPV's role in other diseases, such as head and neck cancers, has given a new push to consideration of vaccinating boys and girls.
"In a perfect world, immunization of all girls might be the most cost-effective way of preventing HPV disease in women," he said.
"However, since we do not live in a perfect world, a very strong argument can be made for immunizing boys in order to prevent genital warts in males and the prevalence of HPV-related cancers in both boys and girls."
A separate study released Monday suggested that HPV may also play a role in heart disease among women with no other risk factors, though more research is needed to confirm if that link exists.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease, with more than 40 types, some of which can cause cervical cancer or genital warts. Often, HPV causes no symptoms at all.
At least 50 percent of sexually active men and women will get HPV at some point in their lives, according to the CDC.
The body can usually clear the infection on its own within two years, but certain types, known as oncogenic strains, can turn into cancers and should be closely monitored.
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