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Research suggests teenage boys should also be vaccinated against HPV

A new report has important news for parents about a virus we hear a lot about in teenage girls but is also showing up more in teenage boys. (Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital)

CLEVELAND (WKRC) - A new report has important news for parents about a virus we hear a lot about in teenage girls but is also showing up more in teenage boys.

While many of us now know the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is one of the primary causes of cervical cancer in young women, you may not know it's also responsible for cancers in men.

Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital are sounding the alarm about this virus. They say while many know young girls can be vaccinated against it, they don't often think the same is a good idea for boys and young men.

The virus is sexually transmitted, and a recent study found nearly half of men in the United States are infected with HPV.

Recent research shows it raises the risk in women for cervical cancer, but it has now been linked to a huge number of head and neck cancers, which it appears could be prevented with the vaccine.

It's one of the reasons pediatricians are now recommending teenage boys and young college students -- both male and female -- get the HPV vaccine. The vaccine currently is recommended for boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 26.

Right now, however, we do know that only one out of 10 boys is currently vaccinated, and by adulthood, one out of two men have been infected.

Experts say that immunity to HPV works best when a child gets the vaccine before age 14.

Two shots are needed for full protection before age 14, three shots after that.

It's suggested parents don't wait until a child is sexually active but rather think of it as protection, and talk to your doctor about benefits and risks.

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