The HPV vaccine for young males has been endorsed by a federal panel, but that doesn't necessarily mean provinces and territories will pick up the tab.

This week, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended the use of HPV vaccine to protect males against genital warts, pre-cancerous lesions and anal cancer.

The group of experts said there is good evidence to recommend the use of Gardasil in males aged nine to 26. Gardasil is the only HPV vaccine indicated and recommended for boys and men in Canada.

 

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Both males and females contribute to the spread of HPV and develop diseases from the infection. ((Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters))

"Both genders contribute to the spread of HPV and develop diseases as a result of HPV infection," Dr. Franziska Baltzer, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Adolescent Health and head of adolescent medicine at Montreal Children's Hospital. 

"To eliminate those diseases, we need to vaccinate males as well as females," he added in a statement.

The panel also said there is good evidence to recommend Gardasil in males who have sex with males, who have a disproportionately high burden of some HPV infections.

Cost effectiveness also needs to be considered, the committee acknowledged.

"Provinces and territories will need to compare the impact of vaccinating males with that of vaccinating additional female cohorts," the panel wrote.

The federal government announced funding to support a national HPV vaccination program in its March 2007 budget.

Dr. Perry Kendall, British Columbia's chief medical officer of health, said his province has not yet had a chance to review the NACI statement or do the economic evaluation needed to determine whether it should offer the vaccine for free to males.

The HPV vaccine will be competing for provincial and territorial funding with other vaccines that are not currently covered, said Dr. Allison McGeer, an infectious diseases specialist in Toronto and a former member of the committee.

With files from The Canadian Press