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Boys in UK to be given HPV vaccine

Published on 09/07/19 at 08:48am
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Boys in the United Kingdom will from September be given the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, the government has said.  

Twelve and 13 year old boys will be given the HPV vaccine in an effort to prevent various forms of cancer including cervical, penile, anal and genital cancers as well as some cancers of the head and neck.

Worldwide, an estimated 5% of all cancers and more than 99% of all cervical cancers are linked to HPV. Cervical cancer is currently the most common cancer in women under the age of 35. Cervical cancer is responsible for the deaths of around 850 women each year.

The HPV vaccine has been given to girls since 2008 with around 80% of women aged 15 to 24 having received the vaccine. It is believed that giving the HPV vaccine to girls may prevent as many as 64,138 HPV-related cervical cancers and 49,649 other HPV-related cancers by 2058.

Since being introduced 11 years ago infections of some types of HPV have fallen among women aged 16 to 21 by 86% in England. In Scotland cases of pre-cancerous cervical disease fell by 71%. Equally cases of genital warts fell by 90% in 15 to 17 year old girls and 70% in 15 to 17 year old boys due to the HPV vaccine.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of Immunisation at Public Health England (PHE) commented: “This universal programme offers us the opportunity to make HPV-related diseases a thing of the past and build on the success of the girls’ programme.

“Offering the vaccine to boys will not only protect them but will also prevent more cases of HPV-related cancers in girls and reduce the overall burden of these cancers in both men and women in the future.”

National Cancer Director at NHS England Cally Palmer said: “By extending the HPV vaccine to boys, the NHS is taking an important step forward in our fight to prevent cancer - more people will be better protected, and the vaccine could help to eliminate cervical cancer in this country.”

“Cancer survival is now at an all-time high, and the NHS Long Term Plan will save even more lives through enhanced screening and early diagnosis programmes to catch cancers sooner when they can be treated best.”

Louis Goss

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