Health Buzz: FDA Panel Backs Gardasil Use in Boys and Other Health News

Lingering effects of teen depression; can ditching kisses prevent the spread of swine flu?

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FDA Panel Recommends Gardasil for Boys and Young Men

Gardasil, the vaccine known to prevent cervical cancer in women, might be heading toward approval for use in men to prevent genital warts, HealthDay reports. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration committee recommended yesterday that the vaccine be made available to boys and men ages 9 to 26. Gardasil acts against the human papillomavirus, or HPV, a virus that can cause genital warts and can in rare cases cause penile and anal cancers. While the FDA does not have to follow its panels' recommendations, it usually does. Fred Wyand, a spokesman for the American Social Health Association, told HealthDay that evidence supports the vaccine's use. "Clinical trials have shown it's pretty effective—90 percent effective in preventing genital lesions [in boys]. Trials in a subset of gay men also found the vaccine to be effective in preventing external lesions, so the signs are pretty clear that it works in guys," he said.

Read why Gardasil has not yet been approved for use in men, according to U.S. News's health advice expert Samuel Broder. Consider these 7 facts you need to know about HPV and Gardasil, and see the latest advice for parents on Gardasil.

Is Your Teenager Struggling With School and Friends? Could Be Depression

If your teenager's having a hard time with friendships and isn't getting with the program at school, it might not just be attitude: It could be the lingering effect of depression, U.S. News contributor Nancy Shute writes.

The rule of thumb is if a teenager has been in a low mood consistently for two weeks, parents should consider depression. But a new study published online this week in Pediatrics found that teens who had been depressed still struggled with school, friendships, and family relationships six months later. That is a good reason for parents to get moving and talk to their child's pediatrician and teachers sooner rather than later, says study author Lisa Jaycox, a psychologist with the Rand Corp., a nonprofit think tank. Read more.

Find out why depressed teens may have trouble getting help: A federal report out in May found that just 39 percent of teens with major depression got treatment. And learn how to prevent depression in teens with cognitive behavioral therapy.

Air Kisses, Hugs, and Other Ways to Prevent Swine Flu

In an effort to contain swine flu, the French Health Ministry this week called for citizens to avoid "all direct contacts between people and particularly with sick people," which means no kissing or shaking hands, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz writes. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a guidance for college students last month instructing them to partake in "self-isolation" if they're suspected of being infected with the H1N1 virus that causes swine flu.

How effective at stemming the spread of swine flu is all this advice?, Kotz asks Richard Wenzel, past president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Certainly, he says, it's smart for infected people to avoid close contact with others, but just how effective these measures are, no one knows. "There are sections in Mexico where 30 percent of the population is now infected," despite the fact that much of the country donned face masks when the outbreak started there in April. Read more.

Kotz wrote earlier about how to recognize the telltale signs of swine flu and has offered swine flu advice for pregnant women and new moms.

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