HPV vaccination for men having sex with men

A NATIONWIDE HPV vaccination programme for men aged 45 or younger who have sex with other men will be introduced in England.

NHS England and Public Health England (PHE) will rollout the programme starting in April 2018 for patients attending sexual health (GUM) clinics and HIV clinics.

HPV is transmitted through sexual contact, with over 100 different types of the virus. It is commonly associated with cervical cancer in women, and girls aged 11 to 13 are routinely vaccinated against the HPV virus. This has been found to provide indirect protection to boys.

Recently the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recognised increasing evidence of an association between HPV infection and non-cervical cancers on men who have sex with men (MSM), who do not benefit from indirect protection from the vaccination programme for girls.

A vaccination pilot in 42 specialist sexual health services clinics starting in June 2016 was judged a success and a phased nationwide rollout will now go ahead.

Dr Michael Edelstein, Consultant Epidemiologist at PHE, 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.

"MSM 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."

A number of organisations, including the BDA and the Oral Health Foundation, have advocated ‘gender-neutral’ HPV vaccination of all boys and girls at age 12/13 but last year the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) found little evidence to justify treating all boys. The decision not to vaccinate all boys has attracted criticism.