HPV vaccines prevents infection in the oral cavity.

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23Jul

hpv vaccine will prevent throat cancers

Great news from Costa Rica about the efficacy of the HPV vaccine at preventing HPV infections in the oral cavity.  This recent study where samples were taken from the throat in vaccinated and unvaccinated ladies in Costa Rica shows that the vaccine prevents infection in the oral cavity.

This is fantastic news for all those campaigning to extend HPV vaccination to include boys as standard.  The revelation that HPV causes throat cancer is a fairly recent discovery and there has been very little research done on the efficacy of the vaccine in the mouth and throat, until now. This study shows that all the medical experts who have added their voice to our campaign are correct in their assumption that HPV vaccine will prevent throat cancer. 

This recent study comes at a time when HPV has been linked to a third of all throat cancers . We are in the middle of an epidemic of HPV related cancers and we need to take action to save lives.

we must start vaccinating boys now.

While this research is very welcome it has to lead to action. Currently in the UK only girls are given the HPV vaccine and boys can only get the vaccine in the private sector. This means to vaccinate boys it can cost up to £500, not an option for many people, especially in times where money is tight for many families.  

Throat Cancer Foundation have been arguing since our inception that HPV does not recognise gender and HPV cancers affect both boys and girls. This is a gender neutral virus which demands a gender neutral vaccine. Not only will HPV vaccination for boys offer greater protection to girls from cervical cancer but will protect boys from throat cancer, anal cancer and penile cancer. The arguments against vaccination of boys range from cost to the assumption that herd immunity will protect boys from HPV. 

the trouble with herd immunity

Herd immunity is the belief that by vaccinating the majority of girls then by extension, boys will not be infected by HPV. Now, this argument might have held some weight in the past; when travel was extremely limited but we live in a highly mobile global society. People think nothing of travelling thousands of miles on holiday, working across continents and thousands travel to the UK each week to live, to study and to go on holiday. If we are relying on boys from the UK not straying outwith the herd and having no contact with people from countries with low vaccination rates, then we are wilfully ignoring the realities of modern life.

Furthermore, a policy which relies on herd immunity excludes entirely men who have sex with other men (MSM) . There is absolutely no protection for MSM under the current guidelines. This is a shocking state of affairs and has to be addressed.  The BMA already recommends that MSM get the vaccine, especially to protect against anal cancers. The HPV vaccine is most effective when given prior to sexual activity (hence why girls get the vaccine age 12) . We would question why recommend a vaccine to sexually active men when blanket vaccination offers the best protection? Why waste money on expensive media and PR campaigns when that money would be better spent extending the outstanding female HPV vaccination programme to include boys?  Experts agree and by making this change we can save lives, prevent suffering and make the UK a beacon of equality and place us at the vanguard of cancer protection.

If you want to learn more about the work we are doing to make this happen, click here for more our latest campaign news and add your voice to the clamour for the cancer preventive HPV vaccine to be offered to everyone. HPV causes death and suffering every hour of the day and we can take action to prevent it. A gender neutral infection demands a gender neutral vaccine. 

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