(ABC) -The HPV vaccine was first recommended for girls in 2006. Since then, infections in teen girls from human papillomavirus, or HPV, have gone down 56 percent according to the CDC. But the vaccine is not just for girls.
HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S. According to the CDC, about 79 million people have it, and most people never know it.
"Fortunately, most of the infections go away on their own, but unfortunately, they can cause severe problems," said Dr. Jennifer Shu, pediatrician.
Severe problems like cervical, head and neck cancers, but there's hope. Thousands of HPV cancer deaths each year may be preventable for both girls and boys.
"The HPV vaccine is important for boys, as well as for girls, because boys can also get cancer from the HPV virus," said Dr. Shu.
That may translate to preventing more than 9,000 new cases of HPV related cancers in men each year.
"It's possible to get infected with the HPV virus without having sex. I think that is one important consideration for parents," Dr. Shu explained.
The CDC recommends boys get the HPV vaccine around the age of 11 or 12 through age 26. With more than 80 million doses distributed since 2006, the HPV vaccine is considered safe.
In other health news, Comanche County Memorial Hospital will host a weight loss options luncheon on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 11:30 a.m. in the Oakwood Conference Center. The cost is $5 and includes a healthy lunch. The guest speaker will be bariatric surgeon Dr. Michael Sawyer. He will be discussing innovative weight loss options. For more information and to make a reservation, call 580-585-5406.