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UK Government to offer HPV vaccine to men who have sex with men

Published on 06/02/18 at 11:06am
Image credit: National Cancer Institute

The UK Government has confirmed a national vaccination programme that will provide access for men who have sex with men(MSM) to protection against the human papillomavirus (HPV) in England, a disease which carries increased risk of oral, anal and penile cancers, as well as genital warts.

Following a successful pilot programme in 42 specialist sexual health clinics in England in 2016, prompted by increasing evidence of HPV and non-cervical cancers in MSM, men aged 45 and younger will be given access to the vaccine from April 2018. England follows in the steps of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, who all already offer the vaccine to MSM.

“Our evidence shows that men who have sex with men are welcoming an HPV vaccination programme, and it can be delivered successfully through sexual health services,” commented Dr Michael Edelstein, Consultant Epidemiologist at Public Health England. “They are a group who receive little indirect protection from the adolescent girls' vaccination programme. We expect the new programme to reduce the number of cancers that are directly caused by HPV.”

The programme will see a phased roll-out in sexual health and HIV clinics across England.

Girls between the ages of 11 and 13 have had access to the HPV vaccine since 2008, though the decision not to vaccinate boys drew criticism last year after a Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation found little evidence to justify the move.

Matt Fellows

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