Committee Recommends Routine HPV Vaccination for Boys
On October 25, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to recommend the routine vaccination of 11- and 12-year-old boys with the quadrivalent human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil. The committee stated that vaccination could begin in boys as young as 9 and that males between the ages of 13 and 21 who have not yet received the vaccine should also be vaccinated.
The ACIP provides advice to government agencies to reduce the incidence of vaccine-preventable diseases and to increase the safe use of vaccines and related biological products. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will review the committee's recommendations before deciding whether to approve them. (The guidelines will become official when published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report).
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States, with approximately 20 million Americans currently infected. Most infections are cleared by the immune system, but some persist. These persistent infections are associated with genital warts, as well as with cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and head and neck. The HPV vaccine works by preventing infections by specific HPV virus types and is most effective when given before exposure to the virus.
In 2009, the committee voted to support the use of Gardasil to prevent genital warts in males but did not recommend routine vaccination of boys. Last week, the committee strengthened its 2009 vaccine recommendation for boys because new data from clinical trials demonstrated the vaccine's effectiveness in males. Given the low rates of HPV vaccination in girls, the committee also noted that vaccinating boys should reduce the rate of HPV infections in females.
CDC Launches Initiative to Prevent Infections among Cancer Patients
Some cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy have a very low white blood cell count, called neutropenia, which leaves them less able to fight infections. As a result, these patients are at increased risk of serious infections. In patients with neutropenia, infections that would ordinarily be minor can become life-threatening.
To help cancer patients and doctors become aware of—and lower—the risk of infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have launched a new website. The website features questionnaires for patients and caregivers about the risk of neutropenia, offers tips for preventing infection, highlights the signs and symptoms of an infection, and offers advice on what patients should do if they think they might have an infection.