Latest advice on HPV: Vaccinate males, too
By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-01
Despite the growing popularity of HPV vaccines among Chinese women since the drugs became available on the Chinese mainland in 2017, males should also be advised to take the vaccine to prevent transmission of the virus, experts said.
HPV infection doesn't happen only to females, although the correlation between the infection and cervical cancer is widely understood by the public, said Harald zur Hausen, winner of the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 2008 for his discovery connecting the human papilloma virus to cervical cancer. His work laid the foundation for the development of HPV vaccines.
"Men are also transmitters of HPV. They may not notice they're infected because they don't usually develop the typical lesions, but they're still infectious to their sexual partners," Zur Hausen said in an interview with China Daily on Tuesday during the ongoing World Laureates Forum in Shanghai.
“So its a very good reason to protect their partners from infection. We believe that if males are vaccinated, it will probably prevent more cervical cancers in females.”
The vaccine can also help prevent HPVtriggered throat cancer and anal cancer, which occur slightly more frequently in males than in females, Zur Hausen said. Altogether 26 Nobel Prize laureates, along with other worldclass scientists and more than 30 academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, are participating in the forum hosted by the Shanghai municipal government.
Usually the best age to vaccinate males is between8and 14, before they engage in sexual activity, Zur Harald said.
He said males often receive voluntary vaccinations in his home country, Germany, as well as in Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries.
“Clinical data show that the vaccines work the same on males as on females,” Zur Hausen said.
However, some countries haven’t even considered the possibility of vaccinating males.
“Their health officials should review the clinical data and apply it to the whole population, as it’s a big problem everywhere in the world,” he said.
Some leading Chinese medical experts said they agreed with Zur Hausen, as the chief transmission channel of HPV infection is clear-mainly through sexual intercourse.
“Since five years ago, I’ve been advocating that we also need to include males in HPV vaccination,” said Sui Long, director of the Cervical Diseases Diagnosis and Treatment Center at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital of Fudan University. “If we only target females, we only do half the work of preventing HPV infection and related cervical cancer.”
“One reason that boys are not vaccinated on the Chinese main land is that clinical trials of the vaccines haven’t yet been conducted on males there,” he said.