Young men and women should both be vaccinated to prevent cervical cancer - a women's disease - the winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine said yesterday. '[Young men up to age 26] are far more promiscuous than girls,' said Professor Harald zur Hausen. He spoke to reporters at a press conference to promote the testing of women for the human papillomavirus (HPV). The test determines the likelihood of getting cervical cancer - the third most common cancer in women - years in the future. 'I would even say that vaccinating the men at that age would do more good than vaccinating the women,' said zur Hausen, a German virologist visiting Hong Kong to speak at a conference this weekend. Men can transmit the virus from one woman to another. Doctors recommend teens and women up to the age of 26 be vaccinated against HPV types 16 and 18, because they account for 70 per cent of cervical cancers globally according to the World Health Organisation. Ninety-nine per cent of cervical cancers are linked to HPV, and the vaccine can also reduce rates of anal, vaginal and vulvar cancers. The vaccine is preventive, but cannot cure existing infections. According to zur Hausen, the British government has vaccinated around 80 per cent of young women in the 10-12 age range and is already seeing reduced rates of cell abnormalities that could turn into cancer. It is yet unknown if this will prevent cervical cancer because the disease takes more than 10 to 20 years to develop and the vaccination has only been on sale for about six years. The Hong Kong government is studying free provision of the vaccine to a certain age group, following the examples of Britain and Australia. The vaccine costs around $HK3,000, at the Family Planning Association, for three shots needed over six months. Women who are sexually active should have yearly pap smears and an additional test for HPV risk - even if they have had the shot - HKU researchers advise. That is because there are other strains of HPV for which there are no vaccines. Abnormal cells can be removed before they turn cancerous, but that creates a 2 per cent risk of complications when giving birth, said Annie Cheung Nga-yin, clinical professor at the HKU department of pathology.