GPs should 'opportunistically' offer HPV vaccine to gay men under 45

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has announced that routine HPV vaccination should be extended to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) under 45, and has called on GP practices to help deliver it.

JCVI has concluded that it would be ‘highly likely’ a programme to vaccinate all MSM up to the age of 45 would be cost-effective.

It added that commissioning and delivering a programme across genitourinary medicine and HIV clinics alone would entail a number of ‘complexities’, and other providers such as GPs should ‘opportunistically’ offer the vaccine to boost coverage.

The current HPV vaccination programme, rolled out in 2008, offers universal vaccination to girls aged 12-13 at school to help protect them against cervical cancer, genital warts and other cancers.

Teenaged boys are not currently offered routine vaccination, despite the fact that HPV can also increase the incidence of anal, penile and oropharyngeal cancers in men. Three quarters of GPs say the rules should be changed to offer routine male vaccination.

HPV vaccination

JCVI has previously said that most boys and men should be indirectly protected from sexual transfer of the virus through the female vaccination programme, but it accepted that the majority of MSM would not receive this benefit.

The guidance replaces interim guidance that recommended MSM under 40 could be considered for a HPV jab at genitourinary medicine and HIV clinics.

On the subject of vaccinating all adolescent boys, JCVI added: ‘Although not the subject of this position statement, the committee recognises the importance of the on-going assessment of HPV vaccination of adolescent boys. JCVI will consider two independent mathematical models which will use different approaches to assessing cost-effectiveness of HPV vaccination in this group.’

Any decision to extend the vaccination programme out to boys cannot be made until ‘early 2017 at the earliest’, it said.

Photo: Dr P Marazzi/Science Photo Library

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