The government has paved the way to vaccinate boys against the human papilloma virus (HPV) virus.
From September 2012, the NHS will switch from using the 'Cervarix’ vaccine to ‘Gardasil', a vaccine considered to protect against more strains of the virus including that responsible for genital warts.
HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but awareness is significantly lower than other common STIs. As well as warts it can cause cervical cancer and cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx (the back of the throat).
According to the Health Protection Agency, there were 482,696 new STI cases in the UK last year. In the US, it is thought that at least half of sexually active men and women get HPV at some point in their lives.
Because of the cervical cancer link, there has been a national programme in the UK to vaccinate girls aged 12 to 13 and a catch-up programme for older girls since September 2008. But there are calls for it now to be extended to boys.
The British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) has called for vaccination of boys following the recommendation of members of the US's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.
Dr Nigel Carter, the CEO of the BDHF said: 'The evidence suggests that Gardasil will not only help prevent cervical cancer, but also work against other strains of the HPV virus including genital warts which affects 75,000 people in the UK.
'The change in vaccine also strengthens the benefits it can bring to young men who are currently left unprotected against this cancer-causing virus. We hope the switch to Gardasil is the first step to extending the population-wide vaccination programme to boys as soon as possible.'
Page created on December 1st, 2011
Page updated on December 1st, 2011