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Should boys get the HPV vaccine too?

Main image 18 November, 2015

Most people know the HPV vaccine protects girls against cervical cancer and that the vaccine is offered free of charge to all girls at secondary school in Scotland. But not as many know that vaccinating boys can protect them against cancer too.

The UK’s national HPV immunisation programme was introduced into schools in 2008 to protect women against HPV-related cancers like cervical cancer and vaginal cancers. However, boys are currently not on a government programme, as in theory, if girls are immunised, boys will be protected from HPV-related cancer too.

Of course, this doesn’t take into account the fact that if a man has sex with a woman in her 20s or older, she’s unlikely to have had the vaccine, and therefore is at risk of contracting HPV and its affiliated cancers.

So what exactly is HPV? And what causes it?

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is a highly contagious group of viruses that cause around 5% of all cancers worldwide.

Anyone who has ever been sexually active is at risk of contracting HPV as it can be passed on through any type of sexual contact, including kissing and oral sex.

In fact, the majority of the public are infected with genital HPV at some point in their lives without ever knowing it.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a US agency that helps the public control and prevent diseases, over 9,000 men are affected by cancers caused by HPV every year.

And in 2014, a group of UK MPs said more than 2,000 cases of cancer in men each year in the UK were caused by HPV.

In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and doesn’t cause any health problems whatsoever. But HPV can – and does – cause cancer.

What’s the link between HPV and cancer?

The HPV virus causes most cases of cervical cancer, and can also be responsible for penile cancer, anal cancer and oral cancer.

Oral cancer might only be the 14th most common cancer in the UK, but in 2012, 67% of all new cases of oral cancer were in men.

And according to Cancer Research UK, oral cancer in men is significantly higher in Scotland compared with England, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

This is backed up by Crispian Scully’s book on oral medicine, which says that ‘squamous cell carcinoma’, the most common type of mouth cancer, is more than twice as common in Scotland than in England and Wales

So how can boys get the HPV vaccine?

At YourGP private health practice in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, we offer the GARDASIL Human Papillomavirus Vaccine, which is proven protection against HPV.

GARDASIL, which costs £160 per vaccines, is available for females and males from nine to 26-years-old, and depending on the child’s age at the time of the first vaccine, they will require either two or three doses.

Here are four reasons why you should get your son, nephew or grandson vaccinated against HPV:

  • GARDASIL can help prevent cancer
  • GARDASIL is the only HPV vaccine that helps protect against four types of HPV
  • GARDASIL prevents genital warts caused by HPV
  • GARDASIL must be administered as early as possible for it to be effective in preventing HPV-related cancers and diseases

To book an appointment for an HPV vaccination in Edinburgh or Aberdeen, use our online booking form.

If you’re in or around Edinburgh or the central belt, call us on 0131 225 5656 or email reception@your.gp

To find out more about the GARDASIL® vaccination for boys, or get more tips, advice and information on sexual health, like YourGP on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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