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Doctors calling for increase in male HPV vaccinations

FILE - In this Nov. 16, 2009 file photo, Nathan Compton grimaces as he gets an H1N1 vaccination from nurse Leslie Trotter, left, as his mother Madeline Rubenstein, right, comforts him at a H1N1-swine flu clinic in Sacramento, Calif. Rich Pedroncelli / AP Photo, file

TORONTO – A leading physicians’s group is calling on provinces and territories to widen their HPV vaccination programs to include boys.

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada says jurisdictions should follow Prince Edward Island’s lead and make their programs open to both genders.

Recently P.E.I. became the first province to make the vaccine publicly available to both girls and boys.

Males spread the human papillomaviruses that the vaccines are trying to protect against.

As well, the viruses cause a number of types of cancer in males, including penile cancer, anal cancers and head and neck cancers.

Dr. Jennifer Blake, the society’s chief executive officer, says vaccinating boys will protect them, and will help drive out the viruses that cause these cancers.

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Blake wrote to ministers of health of all provinces and territories this week to make the recommendation.

“Provincial and territorial governments across the country have all the evidence they need to proceed with a gender-neutral, school-based vaccination program and to implement a catch-up program for all students up to 18 years of age,” Blake said in a statement.

The organization says opening up the program to both boys and girls will help remove the sexual stigma that has been associated with HPV vaccine.

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