In this week's PLoS Medicine, Johannes Bogaards of VU University, the Netherlands and colleagues use mathematical models to investigate whether vaccinating females only, males only, or both sexes is the best way to achieve the most effective reduction in the population prevalence of sexually-transmitted infections.
Specifically for human papillomavirus (HPV), the authors found that single-sex vaccination was the most effective strategy for prevention of disease and that it was preferable to vaccinate the sex with the highest prevaccine prevalence of HPV infection which for HPV is females.
The authors say: "Our results provide a justification, under most circumstances, for the intuitively plausible strategy of targeting intervention at the subgroups that harbor most infections and that act as a reservoir for transmission
We show that, once routine vaccination of one sex is in place, increasing the coverage in that sex is much more effective in bolstering herd immunity than switching to a policy that includes both sexes."
More information: Bogaards JA, Kretzschmar M, Xiridou M, Meijer CJLM, Berkhof J, et al. (2011) Sex-Specific Immunization for Sexually Transmitted Infections Such as Human Papillomavirus: Insights from Mathematical Models. PLoS Med 8(12): e1001147. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001147