Published: Wed, July 10, 2019
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

UK offers HPV vaccines to boys, aims to stop 100,000 cancer cases

UK offers HPV vaccines to boys, aims to stop 100,000 cancer cases

Across the United Kingdom, boys will receive their first dose aged 12 to 13 - year eight for those in England and Wales - with a follow-up dose six months to two years later, also given in school.

Boys who are 12 years or over will be eligible to get vaccinated from the beginning of the school year. "That is why it's so important to have a universal vaccination program, because it'll not only decrease existing inequalities and normalize this very common virus, but also protect more number of people from developing cancer and save lives", said Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust's Chief Executive, Robert Music. Human papilloma virus (HPV) may be the cause of most cervical cancers in women, but vaccinating boys will not only help protect their partners who may be susceptible to contracting the virus via sexual transmission, but also reduce the circulation of the virus in general.

This move has been hailed by the science and medical community.

PHE today announced the HPV vaccination programme would be extended after 11 years of only including girls.

Two doses are needed to be fully protected.

Public Health England found that since the jab was introduced infections of some types of HPV (HPV 16/18) in 16 to 21 year old women have reduced by 86 per cent in England.

"Universal HPV vaccination is the most effective way of preventing HPV-related infection and disease".

Experts at Public Health England (PHE) said the immunisation plan would prevent around 64,000 cervical cancers and almost 50,000 non-cervical cancers over the next 40 years.

She said: "With the boys it will not only protect against cervical cancer for the girls through herd immunity but could also protect against anal cancers and throat cancers". Among the 100 types of HPV viruses, at least 14 can cause cancer, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Over 100,000 cancer cases could be prevented in the United Kingdom by 2058 with the help of this program, according to Public Health England.


It causes 99 per cent of cervical cancers, 90 per cent of anal, around 70 per cent of vaginal and vulvar cancers and more than 60 per cent of penile cancers.

"The HPV vaccine has enjoyed 10 years of success in protecting girls from acquiring cervical cancer as women", he said in an emailed comment. The worldwide health body also stated that most sexually active men and women get infected by HPV.

'Following the success of the vaccination programme for girls, it is only right that boys are now afforded the same protection'. In the United States, it's estimated that 79 million people (most of them in their teens or early 20s) are infected with the virus.

Even if they exhibit no symptoms at all, they can still pass the virus.

There is no medication which can get rid of HPV once someone has it but people's immune systems often destroy the virus themselves within a couple of years of catching it.

Condoms may help to reduce the risk of transmission but don't offer full protection. "I think it is great that men are now also being offered the HPV vaccine, to protect them and the women around them".

Announcing the extension of a vaccination programme to cover boys as well as girls, experts at Public Health England (PHE) said the immunisation plan would prevent around 64,000 cervical cancers and almost 50,000 non-cervical cancers by 2058.

Professor Beate Kampmann, director of the vaccine centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "This decision is a triumph for gender equality in cancer prevention".

'It's pleasing to see the United Kingdom follow the example of other countries like Australia, where the vaccine has been implemented for girls since 2007 and for boys in 2013.

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