An advisory committee to the CDC recently recommended that boys and men from age 13 to 21 be immunized against HPV infection. This comes on top of the 2006 recommendation that females from 11 to 26 do the same.

The efficacy and benefits of vaccination in general are beyond dispute: think measles and smallpox. The contention with HPV vaccination is the typical mode of transmission, sexually, and the political and moral obligations of giving this to children. HPV will infect 75% or more of the US population at some point in life, and can be a direct cause of up to 20,000 cancers a year. For the otolaryngologist, this includes cancer of the tongue, tonsils, throat and sinus.

Given the rise of head and neck cancer, particularly in young women AND men, that are directly attributable to HPV infection, we feel this is a health matter, not a political or moral one. Likewise, we suggest discussing the option of HPV vaccination with your primary care doctor or gynecologist. In our busy office practice in Orlando, we see head and neck cancer on a regular basis, and HPV is becoming a more prominent cause for these. If the vaccine can reduce the risk of cancer, and save lives by treating in a preventative manner, we are all in agreement.

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