Papillomavirus: To stem the HPV epidemic, “we must vaccinate” boys

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protect Every year in France, HPV causes more than 6,000 new cases of cancer

Papillomavirus: To stem the HPV epidemic, “Papillomavirus  boys must be vaccinated

Anti-HPV vaccination of boys is highly recommended. (Illustration) — EPN/Newscom/SIPA

Papillomaviruses (HPV) are the most widespread transmissible sexual infections in France. And no, vaccination against these HPVs is no longer reserved for girls. Since already In some years, boys are also strongly invited to participate. get vaccinated against papillomaviruses. Vaccination is more than necessary in the fight against cancer and to hope ultimately one day to eliminate these STIs.

In France, anti-HPV vaccination is recommended for girls aged 11 to 15 years old. 14 years since 2007, and among boys of the same age since 2021. A generalized and free vaccination of 5th grade middle school students will begin at the end of the year. starting October 2 in some regions. It will be preceded by a communication campaign on vaccination from Monday. Please note that it is possible to get a catch-up vaccination, for both women and men, from 15 to 15 years of age. 19 years old against HPV.

21% of men carrying oncogenic HPV

Each year in the country, HPV, the English abbreviation for “human papillomavirus”, is responsible for more than 6,000 new cases of cancer, most often of the cervix, which causes 1,100 deaths per year, from the vulva or vagina, but also from the ENT area, the anus and even the penis.

A recent study Center published in The Lancetshowed that, at At any given time, 31% of men over the age of 15 are infected with an HPV type virus. More importantly, one in five men (21%) carries oncogenic HPV, that is to say potentially causing cancer.

If the main affected are between 25 and 29 years old (35%), all sexually active men are “a significant reservoir of genital infections by HPV”, continues the ;study. “This Lancet meta-analysis confirms empirical and theoretical elements: the HPV virus is found everywhere, it is extremely transmissible”, commented à AFP Emmanuel Ricard, spokesperson for the League Against Cancer and health doctor public.

Such a direct benefit for them

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, cited According to The Lancet, approximately 69,400 cases of cancer in men caused by HPV have been reported. recorded in 2018 worldwide.

Vaccinating boys therefore presents a first obvious benefit: the injection protects them directly against cancers and warts of the anogenital sphere (penis and anus). ) for which the effectiveness of the vaccine is already available. established.

Another expected gain: “probable protection against ENT cancers, more common in men, induced by HPV”, indicates AFP Judith Mueller, epidemiologist, professor at The School of Advanced Health Studies public (EHESP) and researcher the Pasteur Institute.

Last January, Arthur Sadoun, boss of the French communications group Publicis, broke the deal. a taboo on this little-known link by publicly discussing his tonsil cancer, caused by cancer. by HPV. He had also invited à testify the American actor Michael Douglas, also affected by by ENT cancer to the virus.

« We must vaccinate everyone»

Vaccinating young boys, future sexual partners and spouses, must also allow in fineto reduce the risk of transmission of these viruses. “Boys contaminate themselves with girls, girls with boys, and there are girls who contaminate themselves with girls and boys with boys,” sums Emmanuel Ricard. “At some point, if we want to stop the circulation of the virus, we have to vaccinate everyone.”

On a practical level, “the gender-neutral vaccine recommendation will be easier to implement” promote,” believes Judith Mueller: “Communication no longer needs to be targeted only at young girls, but only at young people.”

48% of girls and 13% of 15-year-old boys first-time vaccinated

According to the researcher, vaccinating boys is all the more important as current coverage is not high. is today “not yet optimal”. At the end of 2022, 48% of girls and 13% of 15-year-old boys had received at least one dose of vaccine.

« The vaccination of boys will clearly have an impact on health “It will benefit women by accelerating the reduction in the risk of cervical cancer,” believes Judith Mueller. « With good information for families, future campaigns in middle school have the potential to increase vaccination coverage among girls and boys at the age of 15. a level that will give significant protection.