Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination offer extended

Following recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the government introduced two new national human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination programmes in 2018: one for men who have sex with men (MSM) and one for all boys aged 12–13.

HPV programme for MSM

HPV is commonly linked to cervical cancer in women and the government introduced an HPV vaccination programme for girls in 2008. As the disease is spread by sexual contact, a proportion of males were indirectly protected by this programme. However, there was increasing evidence linking HPV with head, neck and penile cancers and genital warts. And, MSM do not benefit from indirect protection.

So, following a year long vaccination pilot, NHS England and Public Health England (PHE) began a phased rollout of a nationwide HPV programme for MSM on 1 April 2018. Sexual health (GUM) clinics and HIV clinics offered the vaccine as part of general sexual health check-ups for MSM aged 45 or younger.

HPV programme for boys aged 12–13

In July 2018, following new JCVI evidence, PHE announced that 12- and 13-year-old boys in England would be offered the HPV vaccine.

It was hoped that by also vaccinating boys, there would be a reduction of cervical cancers in women thanks to a larger group being vaccinated (creating an effect known as 'herd immunity'). This action had only taken place in a small number of other countries.

Head of Immunisations at PHE Dr Mary Ramsay said, 'this extended programme offers us the opportunity to make HPV-related diseases a thing of the past and build on the success of the girls’ programme, which has already reduced the prevalence of HPV 16 and 18, the main cancer-causing types, by over 80%'. 

Source(s)

Department of Health and Social Care.
HPV vaccination programme for men who have sex with men [webpage].
gov.uk; 2018.

Department of Health and Social Care.
HPV vaccine to be given to boys in England [webpage].
gov.uk; 2018.

Public Health England.
HPV vaccination for men who have sex with men: year 1 pilot.
Public Health England; 2018.

Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
JCVI statement: extending the HPV vaccination programme – conclusions.
Department of Health and Social Care; 2018.