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HPV vaccination programme 'likely' to be extended to boys

Exclusive HPV vaccination is ‘likely' to be extended to cover boys in order to boost protection from cancer and genital warts protection, Government advisers have told Pulse.

GP and expert members of the Department of Health's advisory committee on cervical screening said the cervical cancer vaccination programme, which began in 2008, should be widened to include teenage boys.

The programme offers girls aged between 12 and 13 the HPV vaccine, Cervarix, which protects against infection from HPV types 16 and 18, which can cause cervical cancer.

Professor Peter Sasieni, director of the cancer prevention trials unit at Queen Mary University of London, told Pulse the quadrivalent vaccine – which also protects against HPV types 6 and 11, which cause genital warts – is likely to be offered to boys in the future pending the results of an international randomised controlled trial.

He said: ‘The main advantage in terms of boys is the prevention of genital warts. The point of it would be to prevent some HPV-related cancers which are much rarer than cervical cancer and also to get herd immunity up.'

He added: ‘As the price of the vaccine comes down, it is likely that the vaccine will be offered in the future.'

GP Government advisors also called for the programme to be extended to boys.

Dr Catti Moss, a GP in Guilsborough, Northamptonshire, and a member of the advisory committee, said: ‘The HPV vaccine given to girls already protects them from HPV related cancer in any part of their body.'

'Vaccinating boys would have the main benefit of protecting men from HPV-related cancers and morbidity. This would benefit all men, including those who have sex with men.'

However a Department of Health spokesperson played down the likelihood of an extension of the vaccination programme, and said the decision would be made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

'JCVI keeps the eligibility criteria of all vaccination programmes under review. However, there are currently no plans to extend HPV vaccination to males, based on an assessment of available scientific evidence,' she said.

'The aim of the HPV vaccination programme is to prevent cervical cancer in women and the best way to do this is to vaccinate girls and young women.'
 

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