The authors of a new paper on human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination for males say other countries will benefit if Australia goes ahead with vaccinating boys.

Researchers Melina Georgousakis, Sanjay Jayasinghe, Julia Brotherton, Nicole Gilroy, Clayton Chiu and Kristine Macartney published ‘Population-wide vaccination against HPV in adolescent boys: Australia as a case study’ in The Lancet on March 23.

“The experiences and data gained over time from countries where universal male vaccination is introduced will be essential to further understand the impact of dual-sex HPV vaccination,” the paper found.

“Australia is the best case study because we’re so far ahead of every other country in the world in immunising girls,” Kirby Institute Sexual Health Program head Professor Basil Donovan said.

“Vaccinating boys in Australia would reveal some very useful insight for all countries.”

Australia already immunises girls against HPV to reduce their risk of cervical cancer. However, HPV is also responsible for anal, penile and neck and head cancers in men.

Last year the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended that the Gardasil vaccine be given to boys aged 12 to 13 but the federal Government has indicated it will not fund a male vaccination before 2013 at the earliest.

Without subsidy, the vaccine costs $450 a treatment.

In March, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society director Marian Pitts called on the Government to introduce a male vaccination program before the end of the year, saying it was “unconscionable” to wait more than 12 months for boys to receive the vaccine.

But Donovan told the Star Observer a vaccination program could not be rolled out that quickly for logistical reasons.

“The one for girls took seven months to roll out, and you’d want to get them at the start of the year because there are three shots for the vaccine. 2013 would be, for practical reasons, the best option,” Donovan said.

However, Donovan was not confident the Government would go ahead with a male vaccine program in 2013.

“There are concerns the vaccine for boys might get sacrificed on the altar of budget surplus,” he said.

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