HPV vaccinations surge in boys

WASHINGTON — More and more parents are realizing the importance of the HPV vaccine — especially the parents of boys.

Health officials are encouraged by the recent surge in the number of boys getting the HPV vaccine. They see it as a sign that people are hearing their message that the vaccine is just as important for boys as it is for girls.

Nearly 50 percent of teen boys (ages 13 to 17) in the United States have gotten the first shot out of a series of three shots in the HPV vaccination, the CDC said. The shots are given over a six-month period. The vaccination rate for teen girls is nearly 63 percent, according to the CDC.

HPV, which is a virus spread through sexual contact, can cause cancer of areas such as the cervix and throat. The Washington Post reported that health experts are alarmed by the current epidemic of HPV-related throat cancers being seen in middle-aged and older men in the country.

Each year in the U.S., more than 9,100 HPV-related throat cancer cases in men are reported, compared with 10,000 HPV-related cervical cancer cases in women, according to The Washington Post.

Pap tests can screen for cervical cancer, but health officials said there is no equivalent way to screen for throat cancers. Health officials are hoping the HPV vaccine will become as routine as tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccinations.

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