Source: British Medical Journal 2014; 349:g4834
Date of publication: July 2014
Publication Type: Comment
In a nutshell: Protecting boys as well as girls by vaccinating against human papillomavirus may cut the incidence of genital warts and several cancers among both sexes, writes Gillian Prue. Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is common in men. Many of these infections are transient and clinically insignificant, but persistent infection with HPV types 6 and 11 can lead to genital warts, and oncogenic types 16 and 18 may lead to some head and neck, anal, or penile cancers. The incidence of each of these cancers has increased worldwide in the past two decades, and HPV causes 5% of all human cancers. Since September 2008 a free vaccination programme has been available for 12-13 year old girls in the United Kingdom, with a catch-up programme to vaccinate girls aged up to 18. Australia, the United States, two Canadian provinces, and Austria have introduced vaccination for boys as well as girls. And now the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, an advisory committee of the Department of Health, is investigating whether to extend the HPV vaccination programme to boys (see http://www.gov.uk/government/groups/joint-committee-on-vaccination-and-immunisation). The cost effectiveness of the vaccine is a key consideration.
Length of publication: 2-page article