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They Say: HPV Vaccines for Boys Are Not 'Cost Effective'

gardasilA study out of the Harvard School of Public Health has found that giving boys Gardasil–the vaccine against HPV, which causes the majority of cervical cancer cases–is not “cost effective.”

The vaccine is recommended for females between the ages of 11 and 26, and although clinical trials have found that vaccinating boys and men offers “a high degree of protection,” researchers ultimately concluded that the financial costs outweighed the benefits of preventing cervical cancer and genital warts.

According to Reuters:

To decide this, they calculated quality-adjusted life years, a figure that takes into account the impact of disease on quality of life.

They found using the vaccine in girls was well within the threshold for good value. But when they added boys into the equation, the benefits did not outweigh the costs.

This may make sense from purely logistical standpoint, but it still makes me highly uncomfortable, particularly given all the backlash against the vaccine, which conservatives have said will encourage girls to have sex. (Check out the above image, which I found on a blog called SAHM-in-Training.) Putting the burden of vaccination against this widespread, cancer-causing STI solely on female shoulders reinforces the double standard in which “boys will be boys,” while girls are expected to carry the full burden of sexual responsibility–putting off sexual activity, being safe, etc.

Furthermore, this study rides on the assumption that 75 percent of girls will get the vaccine.  Apparently, those girls whose parents are opposed to the vaccine on religious grounds will just have to take their chances on getting cervical cancer–even if the first person they have sex with is their husband.

Image: SAHM-in-Training

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