Men who have sex with men are to be offered the (human papilloma virus) HPV vaccination in England.
The programme for men aged 45 or younger will start from April 2018, to protect them from some cancers caused by HPV as well as genital warts,
Since 2008, girls aged 11 to 13 have been offered vaccination against HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.
The English programme followed a successful pilot that started in 42 specialist sexual health clinics in England in 2016.
Warts and cancers
There will be a phased roll-out to men attending sexual health (GUM) clinics and HIV clinics in England.
The pilot was prompted by increasing evidence of the association between HPV infection and non-cervical cancers in men who have sex with men.
This high risk group does not benefit from indirect protection from the vaccination programme for girls.
HPV increases the risk of oral, anal and penile cancers.
Dr Michael Edelstein, consultant epidemiologist at Public Health England, said: “Our evidence shows that men who have sex with men are welcoming an HPV vaccination programme, and it can be delivered successfully through sexual health services.
“They 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.”
Last year a decision not to vaccinate boys against HPV attracted fierce criticism.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation found little evidence to justify treating boys.
But critics said vaccinating boys could help reduce the risk of cancers still further.
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