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Human Papilloma Virus: Why boys are now immunised

Ian Peate explains the decision to include males in HPV vaccination, and why it is long overdue

In 2018, the government announced its intention to extend the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination to boys aged between 12 and 13 years as part of the school- based vaccination programme,1 HPV vaccinating began in 2008 for girls.

Men who have sex with men (MSM) have been offered the HPV vaccine in the United Kingdom since 2016.

A number of countries (over 21) have implemented a universal HPV vaccination programme, with some arguing that female-only vaccination programmes protect males via herd immunity and that MSM will be protected via targeted vaccination programmes, although these may be limited in their effectiveness.

Vaccinating boys as well as girls is the only way to achieve comprehensive herd immunity. HPV vaccination is an extremely successful cancer prevention strategy which has reduced the incidence of cervical cancer in women.2

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