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New male-focused HPV vaccine campaign for Wales

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A new human papillomavirus vaccination programme for men who have sex with men will be introduced in Wales, it has been announced.

The move was announced by Welsh health and social services minister Mark Drakeford earlier this week.

The decision follows advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which provides expert advice to the UK governments.

In November, the JCVI recommended the introduction of a targeted programme for men who have sex with men, in order to provide protection from anal, penile and oropharyngeal cancers.

Since the introduction of the HPV vaccination programme for adolescent girls in 2008, evidence has emerged that immunisation can provide protection against a wider range of cancers, which may be more commonly seen in gay men.

The new programme will be targeted at men aged 16 to 45 who have sex with men and who also attend specialist sexual health clinics.

In addition, the JCVI has recommended that the vaccine be offered to other people who are considered to be at risk, including men who have sex with men who are over 45, sex workers and HIV-positive men and women on a case-by-case basis.

The JCVI is still considering whether it would be beneficial to offer the HPV vaccine to all adolescent boys. A recommendation is expected in early 2017.

Welsh Government

Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford

Professor Drakeford said: “Men who have sex with men are a group who receive little indirect protection from the highly-successful HPV vaccination programme for adolescent girls.

“I’m pleased to announce that I have approved the introduction of a new targeted HPV vaccination programme for men who have sex with men up to the age of 45,” he said.

“We will now give careful consideration about how this programme will be delivered and will make a further announcement in due course,” he added.

The Department of Health in England has said it will consider the JCVI’s recommendations and that it will also confirm its plans “in due course”.

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