HPV: Where Are The Men?

The controversial HPV vaccine has been all over the news lately, and has even made its way to 29 state legislatures. My always-concerned mother called me a few days ago suggesting I run out to the doctor and get myself injected. My roommate brought home a brochure on Gardasil last week. And now representatives in states from Texas to Michigan are introducing bills which would require young girls get the vaccine as well. Even my home state of Wisconsin has kicked around a bill which would mandate the vaccine for all girls entering the 6th grade.

Preventing cervical cancer is something no one would argue is a bad idea. But giving a relatively new drug to hundreds of thousands of girls raises concern on multiple fronts -- from a lack of knowledge of the long-term side effects to the sticky business that is women's rights. But the biggest question on my mind lately is...where are the men in on this issue?

HPV is transmitted through sexual contact. It's not something a girl catches from herself. If the virus is transmitted, more than likely it comes from boy to girl or girl to boy. Maybe it's my Women's Studies Major or my fear of needles that makes me wonder "if you're going to make the girls do it, why not the boys?!" I know men do not get cervical cancer for the same reason women don't get testicular cancer--but if men are helping spread the virus which can cause cervical cancer in women, why not have them vaccinated too?

After an afternoon of digging for the answers to my questions, I was pleasantly surprised to find Merck, the company which manufactures Gardasil, is currently conducting a study on the effectiveness of the vaccine on men. The results should be out at the end of this year. And so I found my answer, and hopefully answered the question for my fellow needle-fearing women.