UK offers HPV vaccines to boys, aims to stop 100000 cancer cases

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From September this year, boys in year 8 will be offered the free HPV vaccine with the scheme marking a first for United Kingdom healthcare.

Human papillomavirus comes in more than 100 different strains and is normally harmless, but can cause cancer of the cervix, vagina, penis, anus, head and neck.

Two doses are wanted to be fully protected.

Parents of girls and boys aged 12 and 13 should look out for information from their children's school about the vaccine and timings for the jab.

- HPV is thought to be responsible for more than 90 per cent of cervical cancers, as well as 90 per cent of anal, about 70 per cent of vaginal and vulvar cancers and more than 60 per cent of penile cancers.

The Royal College of Nursing's Helen Donovan said: 'While the prevention of cervical cancer has been the main aim of the HPV vaccination programme, emerging evidence suggests the vaccine prevents cancers in both sexes.

"Through our world-leading vaccination programme, we have already saved millions of lives and prevented countless cases of awful diseases".

Experts at Public Health England (PHE) said the immunisation plan would prevent around 64,000 cervical cancers and almost 50,000 non-cervical cancers over the next 40 years. "It's important not to delay vaccination, as the vaccine may be less effective as adolescents get older", Dr Mary Ramsay of Public Health England, said.

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PHE today announced the HPV vaccination programme would be extended after 11 years of only including girls. Another argument is that some believe the primary objective in reducing HPV is to simply vaccinate as many young girls as possible, as circulation rates of the virus associated with vaccinating females will ultimately lead to a reduction in HPV diseases in men. Cervical cancer is now the most common cancer in women under 35, killing around 850 women each year.

And if they miss out on the vaccination, parents should talk to the school nurse or immunisation team to ensure they get the jab at a later date. Protection lasts for at least 10 years, although probably much longer.

Public health minister Seema Kennedy added: 'Programmes like this are at the heart of our work to help people live longer, healthier lives through the NHS long term plan and I would encourage everyone who is eligible to take up this potentially life-saving vaccine'.

To protect boys even more, and reduce cancers of the anus, penis and head and neck in the future, health experts say they should be offered the HPV vaccine too.

The additional jabs for boys are estimated to reduce anal cancer by 4,124, penile cancer by 3,433 and oropharyngeal cancer by 21,395 in the next 40 years. I think it is so important for women and boys to take up the HPV vaccine. Australia, which was the first country to introduce a nationwide HPV vaccination programme in 2007, is on track to eliminate it within 20 years.

In most cases, HPV goes away on its own. They are also transmitted through various sexual activities as they are usually in hands, fingers, genitals and mouth.

Other types of HPV infection can cause minor problems, such as warts and verrucas.

The girls' programme has been very successful so far and it's already seen an impact in men as well as woman. Note: material may have been edited for length and content.

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