HPV vaccine success in girls impedes case for boys

Poor uptake of the vaccine in girls was a factor in the recent US move towards routine HPV vaccination of boys, but Professor Basil Donovan said that was not the case in Australia.

“It is true, paradoxically, because we’re the most vaccinated country in the world for women, in a way that does work as a negative in the [PBAC’s] deliberations,” Professor Donovan, head of sexual health program at the University of New South Wales’s Kirby Institute, told MO.

“A strong indication globally for the vaccination of men is the imperfect vaccination rate in women… That’s a less strong argument in Australia.”

Up to 80% of girls in Australian high schools in 2007 received the vaccine, said Professor Donovan, who supports also inoculating boys to tackle the quarter of all HPV-related cancers in Australia that occur in men. Gay men in particular receive no herd immunity protection, he said.