The government's vaccination advisory committee (JCVI) decision has today published 'interim findings' that it is 'unable to recommend extension of the national HPV programme to adolescent boys'.
Human papilloma virus (HPV) is a very common sexually transmitted infection that can cause a range of cancers (cervical, vaginal, vulval, penile, anal, and oral) as well as genital warts. Girls aged 12 and 13 have been offered vaccination against HPV since 2008, as part of a drive to tackle cervical cancer rates.
Martin Tod, Chief Executive of the Men's Health Forum, commented:
Over 2,000 men are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer every year. While vaccinating girls reduces HPV infections in men and boys in the long-term, it doesn't protect men who have sex with unvaccinated women - the overwhelming majority! - or men who have sex with men.
This is a fundamental question of health equality. Both sexes need the best protection against HPV infection and the cancers that can result from it. Even today, one UK man in five dies under the age of 65: we can't afford not to be doing our absolute utmost to cut preventable deaths from cancer.
When Government Ministers take the final decision, they need to take a broader view, fully account both for the health equality question at the heart of this decision and the urgent need to improve men's health, and reverse the JCVI's recommendation.
We will be making the strongest possible representations on this issue to both the JCVI and the Department of Health.
The JCVI is re-opening its consultation for six weeks until the end of August 2017. All responses should be sent to: email@example.com. They have also referred the issue of equality of access to the Department of Health for consideration.
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