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Since 2008, the NHS has offered a free HPV vaccine to girls and the vast majority are vaccinated. Boys are not currently vaccinated but in July 2018, the government announced that boys in England would be offered the vaccine. In July 2019, it was announced the prgramme would begin in Septmber 2019. This page will be updated once more detail is known.
Men in the UK are not eligible for free HPV vaccinations on the NHS. But it is still possible to get a private vaccination.
If you consider yourself to be straight but nevertheless have sex with other men, perhaps only occasionally, you could be at greater risk of HPV infection and the diseases it causes. You should also read the following section.
These are the main arguments for having a HPV vaccination if you have sex with men:
Yes. These are the arguments against vaccination:
There are occasional stories in the media suggesting that some teenage girls’ health has been seriously affected by the HPV vaccine but the overwhelming evidence from scientific and medical studies is that HPV vaccinations are, in fact, very safe. The European Medicines Agency, the World Health Organisation and the UK Department of Health believe that HPV vaccinations are safe. There are no known reports of any serious or long-term side-effects caused by HPV vaccination in adults.
The NHS says that the most common side effects of the HPV vaccine include swelling, redness and pain at the site of the injection, and headaches.
A much smaller group of people might experience fever, nausea (feeling sick) and painful arms, hands, legs or feet. More rarely still, some people develop an itchy red rash. Very rarely, in about one in 10,000 cases, there may be a restriction of the airways and breathing problems. One person in a million may have a severe allergic reaction.
These problems, which may be unpleasant and even distressing, are treatable through self-help (e.g. painkillers) or by healthcare staff. They are also short-lived and people make a full recovery. The staff who give the vaccines are trained to spot and deal with any allergic reactions. The small risk of having one of these side-effects must be balanced against the risk of developing a disease caused by HPV such as cancer.
Most (85%) 12/13 year-old girls in the UK are vaccinated each year. It is a very common procedure that for the vast majority of people is quick, painless and uneventful.
Your NHS GP service is very unlikely to be able to provide HPV vaccination for boys or straight men. If it is available, it would be on a private basis.
HPV vaccination is now provided for adult men at three national pharmacy chains: Boots, Lloyds and Superdrug.
The vaccination is also available from a number of private health centres and travel clinics. An online search along the lines of “Where can I get HPV vaccination privately in [insert nearest town/city] UK” should be helpful.
The private clinics very occasionally run out of the HPV vaccine but any delay is likely to be fairly short.
If you have sex with men as well as women, even if this is occasional, you may be eligible for free HPV vaccinations provided at sexual health (GUM) and HIV clinics. The vaccination service for men who have sex with men was set up because they are at greater risk of HPV infection and the diseases it causes.
Three types of vaccine are available:
Cervarix. This vaccine was used by the NHS in the early years of the girls’ vaccination programme. It protects against two HPV types (16 and 18) that can cause pre-cancers and cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina and anus. Cervarix does not offer protection against the HPV types (6 and 11) that cause genital warts. It can be given from the age of 9.
Gardasil. This is the vaccine currently used for girls by the NHS for the national HPV vaccination programme. It can be given from the age of 9 and protects against infection by the four most significant HPV types, 16 and 18 that can cause cancer and 6 and 11 that can cause genital warts. It is used to prevent pre-cancers and cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina and anus as well as genital warts.
Gardasil 9. This is the newest HPV vaccine available. It protects against 9 HPV types, 16,18 and five others that can cause cancer and 6 and 11 that can cause genital warts. It can be given from the age of 9 years to prevent pre-cancers and cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina and anus as well as genital warts.
The vaccine manufacturers do not claim that their products protect against the development of HPV-caused penile, head and neck cancers. However, most scientists, doctors and dentists believe that, due to the similarities in the diseases, the vaccines do offer protection against these cancers as well as penile and anal cancers. The UK government’s vaccination advisory committee (known as JCVI) is among those sharing this view.
If you are aged 16-45, the vaccine is given through a course of 3 injections over 4-12 months. The second dose is given at least one month after the first. The third is at least three months after the second dose (and ideally within 12 months of the first dose).
|The content of this article originally appeared on the Jabs For The Boys website which was validated for the Information Standard by the Men's Health Forum.|
Date of last review 21/07/18
Date of next review 21/07/21
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