MPs and peers urge for HPV vaccine to be extended to boys

September 9, 2014
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A cross-party group of MPs and peers have released a joint statement calling for the ‪HPV vaccine to be extended to boys.

“As parliamentarians with a special interest in different areas of public health, we would like to make clear our view that all adolescent boys, as well as girls, should be offered the vaccine,” the statement said.

It added: “We believe the long-term savings in treatment and care of men with HPV-related diseases would considerably outweigh the additional cost of extending the vaccination programme to boys; this cost is in any event relatively small, possibly no more than £20-22 million a year.

“But the decision to vaccinate both sexes should not just be about money: it should also be about increasing equity in health between men and women, improving public health and, above all, reducing human suffering.”

The signatures include: John Baron MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer, Sir Paul Beresford MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dentistry, Baroness Joyce Gould, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health, Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Men’s Health, and MP Mike Freer.

The human papilloma virus (HPV) can cause several types of cancer.

A vaccination programme against the virus began in 2008 in the UK, but only among girls, on the grounds that this would curb the spread of the infection to boys as well.

Heterosexual men gain protection from the virus through herd immunity if women are vaccinated, but no such protection is afforded to gay and bisexual men.

HPV is known to spread through genital or oral contact.

It can cause cervical, penile, anal and throat cancers, as well as genital and anal warts.

In November 2013, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) agreed to set up a working group on possibly offering HPV vaccinations to adolescent boys and gay and bisexual men.

The committee has yet to conclude its report.

It has been estimated that in the UK over 2,000 cases of cancer in men are caused each year by HPV as are some 48,000 cases of genital warts.

Conservative MP Mike Freer had previously challenged the government to address the issue, saying it was neglecting the sexual health needs of gay men.

Related topics: anal cancer, cancer, gay men, ‪HPV vaccine, human papilloma virus, joint committee on vaccination and immunisation, Mike Freer, MPs, oral cancer, Peers

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