The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has decided that that a universal vaccination programme protecting boys against human papillomavirus (HPV) is cost effective.
The decision will allow NHS funding to be extended to cover boys as well as girls, who have been covered since 2008. This change in policy would protect around 400,000 boys each year who are currently exposed to the risk of HPV infection and the range of diseases caused by the virus, including several types of cancer.
‘Research and findings by some of the most eminent medical healthcare professionals who advise the Throat Cancer Foundation have stated that for the vaccine to be most effective it should be administered to both boys and girls at 10 or 11 years of age, before they get to High School,’ said Jamie Rae, founder of both Throat Cancer Foundation and HPV Action. ‘There is broad agreement that this will offer children protection from cervical, throat, anal and penile cancers, as well as genital warts, in later life.
Recent figures have shown that rates of Throat Cancer caused by HPV are continuing to rise, and early-stage prevention strategies are needed to protect all children. HPV has been recognised as the cause of nearly all cases of cervical cancer in girls and is increasingly thought to be the cause of an increase in cancers which affect the throat. ‘Australia and a number of other countries have either implemented or recommended a gender-neutral vaccination programme and we believe that the UK should now follow suit,’ added Mr Rae. ‘Our young men should not be exposed to a terrible, debilitating disease which causes long term suffering and can end lives.’