Call for GP incentive on HPV vaccine catch-up

HPV programme for girls up to the age of 18 cannot work on an opportunistic basis, warn sexual health experts.

GPs will need to be incentivised to carry out the HPV catch-up programme if uptake targets are to be met, leading sexual health experts have warned.

Although the HPV vaccination programme, beginning in September for girls aged 11 and 12, will be carried out by school nurses, it has been unclear who will be responsible for the catch-up programme.

Girls up to the age of 18 in England and Scotland are also set to receive the HPV vaccine, because research shows it is effective up to this age.

The HPV catch-up programme will start in Scotland this September, with the English scheme starting in September 2009.

Speaking at the RCGP's annual conference on sexual health in Birmingham last week, Professor Margaret Stanley, an adviser to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation's (JCVI) HPV subgroup, said: 'It is likely that GPs would be the ones doing the HPV catch-up programme.

'GPs will also be involved in giving the HPV jabs to school- girls as some areas will have schools that do not have nurses,' she added.

Professor Stanley told GP that there are currently no plans for the JCVI to recommend to the DoH that boys should be vaccinated against HPV.

Dr Kate Guthrie, a consultant in sexual and reproductive health in Hull and East Yorkshire, said that without GP incentivisation, there could be a low uptake of the HPV vaccine, mirroring what is being seen with the National Chlamydia Screening Programme.

'GUM and family planning clinics should also be involved in the catch-up as a lot of young women are likely to attend these services rather than visit their GP,' she said.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, RCGP spokeswoman for women's health, said: 'GPs cannot do the catch-up programme opportunistically; it will need a system of call and recall.

'I would imagine that GPs may be incentivised through a national enhanced service, such as the one used for flu jabs.'

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com.

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