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Jabs for the Boys

HPV affects both men and women. HPV is sexually transmitted and can lead to a range of cancers, including anal cancer. Girls are vaccinated. Boys are not. In the face of this rapidly growing health threat, it’s time that changed.

This is why GMFA and HPV Action is calling for the Government to extend HPV vaccination to the 367,000 currently unprotected 12-year-old boys in the UK, which will majorly reduce the risk of developing HPV-related cancers.

HPV Action, a coalition of 25 patient and professional organisations, says, “The Government should act immediately to end the serious future health risks facing boys from some of the UK’s fastest growing cancers.” HPV is commonly known to be the primary cause of cervical cancer in women, but it is also a real and rapidly growing health threat to UK men and especially to gay men.

Matthew Hodson, Chief Executive of GMFA, adds: “GMFA supports HPV Action’s call for HPV vaccination to be universal. The vaccine is most effective when it is given to pre-adolescents, before the age when most young gay men feel able to be open about their sexuality, even if they have accepted it. The current policy of providing the vaccination to young girls but not to young boys may help prevent heterosexual men from getting HPV sexually but provides no protection for gay men and only limited protection for bisexual men. Gay men are more likely to acquire sexually transmitted infections, including HPV, and so the current policy amplifies existing health inequalities and contributes to the high prevalence of cancers within the gay population.”

Tristan Almada, who co-founded The HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation after losing his mother to HPV-related anal cancer in 2010, said: “I want to prevent the horror my family went through from ever happening to anyone else again. We have that opportunity today via universal HPV vaccination. The UK should be a leader, not a laggard, to the rest of the world.”

What you need to know:

·      HPV infection in men is associated with up to 90% of anal cancers, 60% of penile cancers, and 75% of tonsillar and base-of-tongue cancers.

·      HPV accounted for 40,392 new cases of genital warts found in men in 2012 -a 15% increase since 2003.

·      A massive 64% of parents surveyed in a YouGov poll agreed that boys should be offered the HPV vaccine.

What we need to do:

·      Urge the public to write to their MPs.

·      Sign the online petition calling for Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to act on the issue