Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the name given to a group of viruses responsible for some types of disease. HPV is common and easily transmitted with sexual contact, not necessarily intercourse. Skin-to-skin contact in the genital area, oral sex and sharing of sex toys are all known to facilitate transmission of the virus between carriers. Once it is transmitted, HPV can cause genital warts, or cell changes which result in cancer.
Can men get the HPV vaccine?
HPV is a cause of different types of cancer in women, including cervical, vulval and vaginal cancer.
The virus also causes penis, anal, head and neck cancers which affect men.
Girls are given their first vaccines against HPV in school during year 8 and year 9.
Boys, on the other hand, are not routinely vaccinated against the disease.
The vaccine is believed to be effective enough in women for it to also protect men.
Unvaccinated girls cannot pass on an HPV infection, indirectly protecting boys via ‘herd protection’.
A general reduction in the incidence of genital warts is already noted in the UK population, owing to this effect.
HPV vaccinations are not readily available for boys, but the NHS plans to extend it to the population in the 2019-2020 school year (September 2019).
This year, boys aged 12-13 years old (year 8) will receive the vaccine for the first time.
Boys will be administered the same jab as girls, with two injections to the upper arm six months apart.
A report from April 2019 found the rate of pre-cervical cancer in girls had significantly dipped as a result of the jab.
Cases of cervical pre-cancer are nearly wiped out following the introduction of the vaccine a decade ago.
A two-year study of 235 patients in Scotland suggests a boy’s vaccine will cut cancer cases even further.
The study, administered by Glasgow Caledonian University, found HPV was present with 60 percent of cases of head and neck cancer.
Study co-author Kevin Pollock said the new vaccine in men could help reduce these cases which have increased over the last 25 years, especially in men.
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