Outcry as boys’ HPV ‘catch-up’ is rejected by the government
Outcry as boys’ HPV ‘catch-up’ is rejected by the government as Health Secretary and Vaccines Minister stop the extension
- The Human Papilloma Virus vaccine was only introduced for girls ten years ago
- The government is refusing to ‘backdate’ boys’ vaccination against the virus
- Matt Hancock and Steve Brine have rejected the extension for boys
The Government is refusing to ‘backdate’ boys’ vaccination against the deadly Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – a move that will cause thousands of cancers and cost many lives.
In July, in a major victory for this newspaper’s End The Vaccine Apartheid campaign, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced that the HPV vaccine, previously available only to girls, would be given to Year 8 schoolboys, aged 12 and 13, from September 2019.
The vaccine was introduced for girls only ten years ago, and the NHS also set up a ‘catch-up’ programme ensuring all girls up to the age of 18 could be immunised.
The Government is refusing to ‘backdate’ boys’ vaccination against the deadly Human Papilloma Virus
However, the MoS has learnt that Mr Hancock and Vaccines Minister Steve Brine have rejected this extension for boys.
HPV tumours usually strike long after infection, when men are in middle age. The virus, spread by intimate contact and kissing, is thought to cause five per cent of all tumours, including those of the mouth, throat, cervix and genitals.
Girls were originally prioritised for vaccination because HPV causes cervical cancer, which kills about 1,000 women a year. But HPV-related cancers in men have increased by a quarter in the past decade and are now responsible for 2,000 male cancers every year.
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Tomorrow, Mr Brine will receive a letter from 16 leaders of medical groups including the British Dental Association and the Royal College of Surgeons. It says that ‘on the grounds of both equity and improved public health, the opportunity must be seized to vaccinate as many boys as possible.’
It adds that the NHS Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) took three years longer than had been pledged to introduce the male vaccination.
‘This has meant that over one million additional boys have been left unprotected,’ it notes.
In July Health Secretary Matt Hancock (pictured) announced that the HPV vaccine, previously available only to girls, would be given to Year 8 schoolboys
The Department of Health and Social Care says the reason for not introducing a boys’ catch-up scheme is because most girls are vaccinated and are therefore unlikely to pass the virus to boys.
This argument was attacked by experts because it ignored men who have sex with men, men who have sex with women from countries where there is no vaccination, and the parts of Britain where only half of girls are vaccinated.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman defended the decision, saying: ‘High uptake rate of the HPV vaccine among girls has reduced the overall risk of unvaccinated boys coming into contact with HPV.’
WHAT IS HPV? THE INFECTION LINKED TO 99% OF CERVICAL CANCER CASES
Up to eight out of 10 people will be infected with HPV in their lives
Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the name for a group of viruses that affect your skin and the moist membranes lining your body.
Spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex and skin-to-skin contact between genitals, it is extremely common.
Up to eight out of 10 people will be infected with the virus at some point in their lives.
There are more than 100 types of HPV. Around 30 of which can affect the genital area. Genital HPV infections are common and highly contagious.
Many people never show symptoms, as they can arise years after infection, and the majority of cases go away without treatment.
It can lead to genital warts, and is also known to cause cervical cancer by creating an abnormal tissue growth.
Annually, an average of 38,000 cases of HPV-related cancers are diagnosed in the US, 3,100 cases of cervical cancer in the UK and around 2,000 other cancers in men.
HPV can also cause cancers of the throat, neck, tongue, tonsils, vulva, vagina, penis or anus. It can take years for cancer to develop.
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