Tory MP Mike Freer has announced a campaign to have the HPV vaccination extended to include teenage boys, arguing that the current scheme, which only vaccinates girls, neglects to protect gay men.
The Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, is to challenge the Public Health Minister on the topic in a debate at the House of Commons tonight.
He will argue that teenage boys in state schools should be offered the HPV vaccine as well as teenage girls. The current scheme vaccinates 12 to 13 year old girls as a preventative measure against cervical cancer.
Mr Freer said he wants the scheme to be expanded in order to protect all teenagers from HPV later in life, and argues that the current scheme does not protect gay men.
He argues that the current scheme uses the concept of “herd vaccination” as a secondary motivation to protect males in relationships with vaccinated females, but that it makes no provision for the protection of men who have sex with men.
Speaking from the House of Commons in advance of the debate, Mike Freer said: “I cannot understand why the previous Government introduced a scheme that so wilfully neglected the sexual health needs of men, particularly the homosexual community. I am adamant the current Government must review the vaccine contract and change this sorry state of affairs. I will be making this point forcefully to the Minister in tonight’s debate.”
He went on to argue that men who have sex with unvaccinated women, such as those born abroad, or are unvaccinated because they are older, are also put at risk by the current system.
Mike Freer has been working with the Terrence Higgins Trust on his campaign, and expects a number of cross-party MPs to be present to support his debate.
Daisy Ellis, Head of Parliamentary & Public Affairs at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We believe men have a right to the same protection from HPV as women. While the current programme of vaccinating women protects some men indirectly, gay and bisexual men will remain at risk of developing HPV-related cancers unless the programme is redefined to protect both sexes. HPV can be passed on through anal and oral sex, and – unlike most other STIs – condoms will not always stop an infection taking place. A proper, inclusive vaccination programme would be the most effective way to reduce the level of anal and oral cancers among men.”