The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has asked government to offer routine HPV vaccinations to schoolboys to limit the spread of certain cancer types. This is already offered to schoolgirls.
Girls between the ages of 12 and 13 have been offered a vaccine for the protection against cervical cancer since 2008. Cervical cancer can be caused by certain types of the human papilloma virus (HPV). The RSPH has asked the government advising committee to make the decision on whether boys should receive the vaccination prior to becoming sexually active.
The viruses often cause genital warts in males and are normally linked to cancers of the penis, anus and mouth.
The charity has also suggested that the vaccine be distributed in gyms to target bisexual and gay males, who are at higher risk of infection.
Most people who are sexually active succumb to the virus at some point during their lives. Most are cleared by the person’s immune system, but some are more persistent.
Routine immunisation for males has been viewed as less cost-effective as the male cancers are not as common as female cancers. It is also due to the programme which has been instituted for girls offering ‘herd immunity’ for boys. However, the RSPH has argued that not all females are vaccinated, and men who have sex with other males are at high risk.
Although the RSPH have called on the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation to offer the vaccine to bisexual and gay men in a variety of settings, including gyms, it said that a school programme would be far more beneficial.
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