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Northern Ireland extends HPV vaccination to boys aged 12 and 13

The HPV vaccine is to be offered to boys aged 12 to 13 in Northern Ireland to protect them against related cancers.

Boys in year nine at school will be vaccinated from September through a programme announced by the Department of Health this month.

This builds on the success of the HPV vaccination programme for girls aged 12 to 13, which was launched in 2008 across the UK.

Meanwhile Northern Ireland’s Department of Health has also announced a new bowel cancer test to improve detection rates.

The faecal immunochemical test will replace the faecal occult blood test in the country’s screening programme from early 2020.

This follows advice from the UK National Screening Committee which in January 2016 recommended the switch to the faecal immunochemical test because it uses a more reliable quantitative approach to measure the presence of blood in the faecal sample.

The RCGP welcomed both the introduction of the HPV vaccine for boys and the new bowel screening test.

Dr Grainne Doran, RCGP Northern Ireland chair, said: ‘We are delighted to see the HPV vaccine extended to young boys in Northern Ireland. This brings us in line with other areas in the UK.

‘The vaccine helps to protect young boys and girls from a virus that can trigger a range of cancers and is proven to be very effective in protecting women against cervical cancer.

‘We hope that parents will take the opportunity to have their children vaccinated as soon as the vaccination programme is offered come September.’

Commenting on the new bowel cancer test, he added: ‘Anything that helps improve the rate of identifying bowel cancer is welcome. Patients will be contacted directly if they fall within the age category for the screening programme once available and we encourage people to respond if they are contacted.’

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