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HPV vaccine to be given to boys in England

Published on 25/07/18 at 10:28am

The government has announced that boys in England aged 12 and 13 will be vaccinated against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) a sexually transmitted virus which has been linked to various forms of cancer.

The HPV virus, which can be transmitted through sexual contact with another infected person, has been pointed to as the leading cause of throat cancer around the world. The virus has further been linked to 5% of cancers worldwide including cervical, vaginal, penile, anal and oral cancers. The announcement made on Tuesday has come after a recommendation from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) argued that the HPV vaccine should be given to boys.

As reiterated by Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, Royal Society for Public Health: "It is imperative that the gender-neutral programme is implemented by September 2019 to ensure as many people as possible reap the benefits."

The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation state that the virus is present in one in three people while 90% of individuals will come in contact with the virus at some point in their lives.

The HPV vaccine has been offered to girls aged 12 and 13 since 2008 as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. The vaccine has also recently been introduced to men who have sex with men. The decision will bring England in line with both Scotland and Wales who already offer the jab to boys.

Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisations at Public Health England, commented: "This extended programme offers us the opportunity to make HPV related diseases a thing of the past and build on the success of the girls' programme, which has already reduced the prevalence of HPV 16 and 18, the main cancer-causing types, by over 80%. We can now be even more confident that we will reduce cervical and other cancers in both men and women in the future."

Louis Goss

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