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Call for universal HPV jab

1st February 2013

A British charity has called for schoolboys to be given the HPV vaccine in an effort to cut cases of throat cancer.

cervical cancer

The Throat Cancer Foundation wants the decision to immunise girls – introduced in 2008 to protect against the virus that causes cervical cancer – to be extended to all 12-year-olds as protection against other cancers.

Australia is currently the only country to routinely offer universal vaccination to boys and girls.

The Throat Cancer Foundation said the current girl-only vaccination programme was discriminatory but extending it would save hundreds of lives.

While the vaccine protects against HPV types 16 and 18, which are responsible for most cases of cervical cancer, it has been linked to throat cancer.

Professor Christopher Nutting, lead clinician of the head and neck unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, said cases of throat cancer were rising across the UK.

β€œAt the moment girls are routinely vaccinated against HPV but boys are not, meaning they are routinely being exposed to a virus that can cause life threatening cancers,” he said.

He added that evidence from Australia, where a national programme had led to a 90% drop in cases of genital warts in men and women, showed the vaccine is effective.

Consultant maxillofacial surgeon Professor Simon Rogers from University Hospital Aintree said HPV was putting a strain on the NHS and that cases of HPV and oropharyngeal cancer could exceed cases of cervical cancer by 2020.

However, the Department of Health said there are currently no plans to extend HPV vaccination to males.

 

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