A new study released by Merck finds that the HPV vaccine Gardasil is just as effective in boys and men as it is in women. In a study of 4,065 sexually active men, those who received the shot were 90 percent less likely to contract the virus. The vaccine was also 66 percent effective in subjects who'd already been exposed to HPV. Those numbers are on par with the vaccine's effectiveness in women.
Gardasil can help prevent genital warts, penile and anal cancer. Those diseases are uncommon in men, however, leading some critics to question whether the cost of the vaccine is justified. But public health experts say vaccination of men could protect women as well, cutting the risk of cervical cancer in addition to other cancers in men.
Gardasil was first approved in 2006 to prevent certain strains of HPV in girls and women ages nine to 26. In 2009 the FDA expanded that approval to include men and boys of the same age, but the CDC guidelines haven't yet recommended the injection for that group due to a lack of effectiveness data. The new study from Merck may prompt the CDC to reevaluate its stance on the vaccine.