As our supporters will know TCF have been campaigning since our inception to change the dangerous and discriminatory policy towards HPV vaccination in the UK. We know now that HPV causes many different cancers (including nearly 35% all throat cancers) , not just cervical cancer and is as dangerous for boys as it is for girls. .
Boys need to be protected from HPV and the current policy which only vaccinates girls is discriminatory and dangerous. We met with our friends at the HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation and put the wheels in motion to gather as many like minded charity organisations as we could to try and change this ludicrous and antiquated vaccination policy.
The result was even more successful than we had initially hoped, from an initial two organisations HPV Action has quickly gathered well over 20 different charities: from oral cancer charities, to gay men’s health charities and school nurses too. Everyone has jumped on board because they want to change a policy which excludes half the population from a vaccine which could save their lives.
ABOUT HPV ACTION
Here is the lowdown on HPV Action (taken from the website) .
HPV Action (HPVA) is a collaborative partnership of 22 patient and professional organisations that are working to reduce the health burden of HPV. To achieve this, HPVA will deliver an advocacy campaign that aims to achieve gender-neutral HPV vaccination. This means that all boys and girls will be routinely offered vaccination against HPV at the age of 12/13.
HPVA believes that boys should now be included in the programme for the following reasons:
- To ensure the maximum possible protection of women against cervical cancer.
- To protect both men and women from other HPV-related cancers (anal, penile, oropharyngeal, vaginal, vulval).
- To protect both men and women from genital warts and also children and adults from recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP).
We consider that it is unethical to exclude males from a vaccination programme that could significantly reduce their burden of cancer and protect their sexual health.
Exclusion also exacerbates inequalities in cancer outcomes between men and women and between different groups of men (e.g. men who have sex with men and men who don’t and men who have received HPV vaccinations paid for privately and those who have not).
For optimal effectiveness, males should be vaccinated at the same age as females, i.e. at age 12/13, before the onset of sexual activity. Vaccinating at a later age, and not via schools, will achieve lower coverage and provide less protection for individuals already exposed to HPV infection.
HPVA believes the time is now right for an advocacy campaign on gender-neutral vaccination:
- The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which provides independent expert advice on immunisation to Government, is currently reviewing the potential benefits of HPV vaccine for those not currently offered immunisation, particularly men who have sex with men (MSM). It is expected that the JCVI will report in 2014.
- The Australian government is now implementing its decision to extend its HPV vaccination programme to boys. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA now recommends HPV vaccination for boys.
- An increasing number of clinicians, public health professionals and patient organisations in the UK are recommending routine HPV vaccination for boys or, specifically, MSM. The Throat Cancer Foundation secured over 150 signatures from a range of experts for a petition on this issue.
- Politicians in the UK are increasingly supporting the case for vaccinating boys (Early Day Motion No 980 on gender-neutral HPV vaccination was signed by 59 MPs from all parties in 2013 and, in July, Mike Freer MP secured an adjournment debate on HPV vaccination for boys). The Scottish Parliament Public Petitions Committee is also currently considering the issue.
- HPVA’s work includes:
- Lobbying MPs and ministers, government and NHS officials
- Generating media coverage
- Building medical and scientific support
- Engaging patient, professional and other organisations
HPV Action has been financially supported by Throat Cancer Foundation, HPV and Anal Cancer Foundation, British Dental Health Foundation, European Men’s Health Forum and Mouth Cancer Foundation and receives no commercial sponsorship.