HPV vaccine studied for N.B. boys
New Brunswick is studying the possibility of expanding its HPV vaccine program to young boys, according to a Health Department official.
The Federation of Medical Women of Canada is urging provinces to expand the vaccine, which can protect against the human papilloma virus that causes genital warts and cervical cancer, to young boys as well.
The vaccine, Gardasil, was approved earlier this year for boys and men ages nine through 26, the same age range as its approval in girls and women.
As of 2008, Grade 7 girls across New Brunswick have been vaccinated for free.
Dr. Paul Van Buynder, deputy chief medical officer of health, said there is support for the idea of vaccinating boys in the province.
But at $400 a shot, it is expensive, and now a national study is underway to see if boys might be helped enough if girls alone get the shot, according to Van Buynder.
"Certainly we are getting an impact in males, just by vaccinating the young ladies," Van Buynder said.
"For that reason, we are awaiting the cost effectiveness of this vaccine for males."
Van Buynder indicated earlier in 2010 the Department of Health would investigate whether boys should be added to the provincewide vaccine program.
It has been applauded by the Canadian Cancer Society for taking on a virus 75 per cent of New Brunswickers are likely to encounter in their lifetime.
The program currently costs the Department of Health about $1 million a year.
Dr. Kerry Parker, an official with the Federation of Medical Women of Canada, said boys should also be receiving the vaccine.
"This will decrease the rates of HPV in the population and decrease transmission to women," Parker said.
HPV is sexually transmitted and Parker said boys can also develop a variety of non-cervical cancers about half as often as women.