HPV vaccine for men who have sex with men

The HPV vaccination programme is to be extended to men under 45 who have sex with men.

NHS England and Public Health England (PHE) say the programme will start in sexual health (GUM) clinics and HIV clinics in England from April this year.

The announcement comes after a vocal campaign from men’s health organisations including the Men’s Health Forum. Girls aged 11 to 13 have been vaccinated against the HPV virus since 2008, and this provides indirect protection to many males. Men who have sex with men do not benefit from indirect protection from the vaccination programme for girls, leading the campaign to extend the programme.

There is increasing evidence of the association between HPV infection and non-cervical cancers in men who have sex with men. The vaccine also protects against genital warts.

The decision follows a vaccination pilot conducted in 42 specialist sexual health services clinics. The pilot assessed the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of a national HPV vaccination programme (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hpv-vaccination-for-men-who-have-sex-with-men-year-1-pilot).

Dr Michael Edelstein, Consultant Epidemiologist at PHE, says: ‘Our evidence shows that men who have sex with men welcome HPV vaccination, and it can be delivered successfully through sexual health services. Men who have sex with men are a group who receive little indirect protection from the adolescent girls’ vaccination programme. We expect the new programme to reduce the number of cancers that are directly caused by HPV.’

Eligible men will be offered the vaccine at routine sexual health check-ups.

See Peter Baker’s blog on this subject here and have your say.

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