Charity backs HPV jab for boys

A dental charity has joined calls for the HPV jab to be given to teenage boys.

1.5m girls have been vaccinated under the HPV vaccine programme
1.5m girls have been vaccinated under the HPV vaccine programme

The British Dental Health Foundation said HPV is now a leading cause of cancer for men and that more must be done to prevent it, starting with extending the HPV vaccine to boys.

The charity's chief executive Nigel Carter said: ‘We strongly recommend that the government take another look at introducing the vaccination for young males.

'Much of the 42% rise in incidence of mouth cancer over the last 10 years is attributed to HPV and whilst vaccination of adolescent females will help, in order to be truly effective we will need to consider vaccination of males as well.'

The debate had reignited following an Australian study that found almost two thirds of all throat and tonsil cancer cases are caused by the HPV virus.

Research now suggests HPV, which is transmitted by oral sex, could soon rival smoking and drinking as a main cause of mouth cancer, the charity said.

The national HPV vaccine programme has vaccinated 1.5 million teenage girls since September 2008.

A similar programme for boys was turned down because the cost exceeded the upper threshold of NICE's cost-effectiveness benchmark.

Mr Carter said: ‘The impact of the disease is huge and treatment of advanced cases extremely expensive so it is likely that a cost effective case for the vaccination could be put forwards.'

Stephen Robinson

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