The national immunisation schedule should include a vaccination for the human papilloma virus (HPV) for men who have sex with men (MSM), according to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI.
The vaccine would be available in sexual health facilities, such as GUM and HIV clinics, to MSM aged between 16 and 40 under the new proposals. It can prevent cancers in both male and females, including cervical, anal, penile, vulvar and vaginal cancers. It also protects against genital warts, the most common STI in the UK.
However, the recommendations are conditional on the vaccine being delivered at a cost-effective price. However, the committee reports that PHE will not begin modeling work on the impact and cost of the HPV vaccine for MSM until early 2015, so it is uncertain when the programme could begin.
The JCVI identified MSM as a high-risk group for HPV and associated diseases that receives 'very little health benefit from the current HPV vaccination program.'
Peter Baker, campaign director for the HPV Action coalition, said: 'MSM are a particularly important group for the HPV vaccine. Under the current provision of the vaccine, which only goes to adolescent girls, MSM receive no benefit from 'herd immunity.' A heterosexual male cannot receive HPV from a vaccinated female, but MSM receive no such protection. We see the JCVI's announcement as a small but significant step towards the ultimate goal of providing the HPV vaccine to all adolescent males.'
The committee also expressed concerns about the lack of data regarding the behaviour of HIV-positive MSM, and the impact of vaccination in this group. The data collected was generally poorer as the numbers were smaller, meaning it was difficult to estimate the risk difference between HIV positive and HIV negative.