By Greg Dawson
The HPV vaccine will now be available for boys aged 12 to 13 after this summer, preventing 29,000 cancers in UK men in the next 40 years.
From the start of the school year, the vaccine will be available to boys, helping protect against human papillomavirus which can cause oral throat and anal cancers.
Girls were first vaccinated against the virus 11 years ago, since then there has been a long campaign to vaccinate boys as well.
Professor Beate Kampmann, the director of the vaccine centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has called the decision “a triumph for gender equality in cancer prevention.
“It’s pleasing to see the UK follow the example of other countries like Australia, where the vaccine has been implemented for girls since 2007 and for boys in 2013. This has resulted in the HPV rate among women aged 18 to 24 dropping from 22% to 1% between 2005 and 2015. This success speaks for itself. We now have the tools to eradicate most HPV-associated cancers for men and women.”
The vaccine will be offered to boys aged 12to 13 at the start of the school year in England, Scotland Northern, Island and Wales. Two doses are needed to be fully protected and the protection lasts for at least 10 years.
The vaccine is best delivered to boys at 12 to 13 before they become sexually active, HPV infections being spread through skin to skin contact and are usually found on the fingers, hands, mouth or genitals. Older boys can’t get the vaccine for free but can buy it for £150 a dose.
Seema Kennedy, public health minister, has encouraged everyone who can get a vaccination against HPV ‘“Through our world-leading vaccination programme, we have already saved millions of lives and prevented countless cases of terrible diseases. Experts predict that we could be on our way toward eliminating cervical cancer for good,” she said.