By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you are a parent you may have heard that the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that all boys between the ages of 11 and 12 receive the three-dose vaccine for the human papillomavirus or hpv. This follows up on a recommendation released a few months ago by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advisory committee on immunization practices.

Now you might be asking why boys need to get the vaccine if the hpv virus is associated with cervical cancer and cervical cancer occurs only in women. There are two reasons: the first is that hpv is spread through sexual activity and vaccinating both boys and girls early in life could cut down the potential for spread. The virus is transmitted through genital or oral sex, and many people who have the virus don’t know they have it.

To be effective, the vaccine for the virus must be given before someone is ever infected. Your physician can explain in greater detail.