HPV Vaccine Will Be Offered to School-Age Boys in an Effort to Reduce Cervical Cancer
It has been announced today that, from September, boys in school year 8 living in the UK will be offered the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for free. Currently, the programme has only been available to girls, so this is a huge news. Public Health England (PCE) says that the vaccine programme could prevent over 64,000 cervical cancers and nearly 50,000 noncervical cancers by 2058.
The link between the incidence of cancer and the HPV virus is staggering, and according to PCE, about 5 percent of all cancers worldwide are linked to the virus. This includes cervical, penile, anal, and genital cancers, and some cancers of the head and neck. "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," says Head of Immunisation at PHE, Dr Mary Ramsay.
We only have to look at the results that have been observed since the introduction of the free HPV vaccine in adolescent girls by the NHS in 2008. Infections of some strains of HPV (specifically, HPV 16/18) in 16- to 21-year-old women has reduced by 86 percent in England, while, according to a Scottish study, precancerous cervical disease in women has also reduced by up to 71 percent.
Further, diagnoses of genital warts have declined by 90 percent in 15- to 17-year-old girls, and 70 percent in 15- to 17-year-old boys due to the HPV vaccine. "The success of the HPV vaccine programme for girls is clear, and by extending it to boys, we will go a step further to help us prevent more cases of HPV-related cancer every year," says Public Health Minister Seema Kennedy in a press release by PCE. A representative of the National Infection Service at PHE confirmed to POPSUGAR that the vaccination programme for boys will utilise Gardasil, the same vaccine as is currently used for girls, which protects against HPV types 16, 18, 6, and 11 (types 6 and 11 cause the majority of genital warts).
Keep on reading to view the announcement and reactions to the programme on Twitter.