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Cancer prevention: Experts are now recommending HPV vaccination for boys
Vaccination against human papilloma viruses has been recommended for girls for years. Recently, the Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) decided to recommend HPV vaccination for boys in the future. Some health insurance companies have already announced that they will cover the costs.
Viruses can cause cancer
Human papilloma viruses (HPV) are pathogens that can cause inflammation and skin changes, but in the worst case can also cause cancer. The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has been recommending HPV vaccination for girls from the age of nine since 2007. This should significantly reduce the number of cervical cancer cases. In future, this vaccination will also be recommended for boys.
HPV vaccination not only for girls
As the RKI reports on its website, the STIKO took the following decision at its 90th meeting around two weeks ago:
"The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) for all boys aged 9 to 14 years. Follow-up vaccination is recommended up to the age of 17. The HPV vaccination recommendation for girls remains unchanged. "
The German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) explains in a press release that this recommendation is the basis for the statutory health insurers to cover the costs.
No uniform regulation for the assumption of costs yet
As the experts explain, the STIKO recommendation only applies when it is published in the Robert Koch Institute's Epidemiological Bulletin 34/2018.
Following this publication, the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) examines the assumption of costs by the statutory health insurers.
Until then, there is still no uniform regulation on the question of the assumption of costs. Until then, parents who want to have their sons vaccinated immediately should discuss any possible costs with their health insurance company.
Some insurers have already announced that they will cover the costs. For example, Dr. Jens Baas, CEO of Techniker Krankenkasse (TK): "We are taking this recommendation as an opportunity and are now reimbursing the costs of HPV vaccination for boys too."
And in a message from DAK-Gesundheit states: "DAK-Gesundheit will take over the vaccination against human papillomaviruses (HPV) for boys from July 1st."
Nobel Prize in Medicine welcomes the decision
Since the HPV vaccine was approved in Germany in 2007, numerous health experts have demanded that not only girls but also boys be vaccinated against HPV, as this vaccination can also protect against genital warts and precursors to penile and anal cancer.
One of these experts is the Nobel Prize in Medicine Harald zur Hausen. He told the DKFZ that it was “high time” that HPV vaccination was recommended for boys.
With his research, Harald zur Hausen, former chairman of the DKFZ board of directors, has shown the connection between viruses and cervical cancer and thus laid the foundation for the development of HPV vaccines.
For this he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2008.
Protection against preventable cancers
He said about the STIKO decision: “It was high time! There have been a number of compelling reasons for vaccinating boys for a long time: The most obvious argument is that in almost all cultures, young men have more sexual partners than women of the same age group. This makes men the most important spreaders of the infection. "
In addition, men also benefit from vaccination because they are not only the carriers, but also the victims of the viruses.
"Vaccination not only protects against cervical cancer, but also against various other types of cancer that can also affect men and that are triggered by the same types of HPV, such as mouth and throat cancer or anal cancer," said the Nobel Prize winner for medicine.
"I can therefore only appeal to the parents of all boys: seize the opportunity and protect your son and his future partners from these avoidable cancers," said the expert.
According to the information, around 1,000 cancer cases in men are caused by HPV in Germany every year.
"In addition to effective protection against cancer, vaccination can also protect against widespread genital warts, which are not life-threatening, but are very persistent and uncomfortable," said Zur Hausen.
Well tolerated vaccines
According to the DKFZ, the vaccines currently used are considered safe and well tolerated.
The most common side effects observed - similar to other vaccinations - are skin reactions at the injection site such as redness, itching, mild pain and swelling.
For example, headaches, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, or hypersensitivity reactions such as difficulty breathing may occur less frequently. (ad)