Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that it will introduce a nationwide HPV vaccination programme for men aged 45 or younger who have sex with other men.
NHS England and Public Health England will work to start the programme from April 2018, for those attending sexual health (GUM) clinics and HIV clinics in England.
“We expect the new programme to reduce the number of cancers that are directly caused by HPV”
It follows recommendations from the government’s independent advisory group the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The JCVI has previously recognised increasing evidence of the association between HPV infection and non-cervical cancers on men who have sex with men.
The committee considered the evidence on the impact and cost-effectiveness of a targeted programme of vaccinating men who have sex with men in the autumn of 2014.
As a result, a vaccination pilot started in 42 specialist sexual clinics from June 2016 and was a success in terms of feasibility and cost-effectiveness.
A phased nationwide roll-out to protect men who have sex with men from some cancers caused by HPV as well as genital warts, will now go ahead, said the department on Monday.
Given the phased approach to the roll-out, the vaccine will be available to patients as part of their routine sexual health check-up.
Dr Michael Edelstein, a consultant epidemiologist at Public Health England, said: “Our evidence shows that men who have sex with men are welcoming an HPV vaccination programme, and it can be delivered successfully through sexual health services.
“Men who have sex with men are a group who receive little indirect protection from the adolescent girls’ vaccination programme,” he noted.
He added: “We expect the new programme to reduce the number of cancers that are directly caused by HPV.”
Disappointment over interim ruling against HPV jab for boys
Source: Photohound/Jan Christian
Since 2008 girls aged 11 to 13 have been vaccinated against the HPV virus, which provides indirect protection to boys. The virus is most commonly associated with causing cervical cancer in women.
The HPV programme was implemented in September 2008 using the Cervarix vaccine, following a positive recommendation from the JCVI. The Gardasil vaccine, which is currently used, protects against two high-risk types of HPV (16 and 18) that cause at least 70% of all cervical cancer.
However, decision last year by the government advisors not to recommend extending routine immunisation against human papillomavirus (HPV) to teenage boys was met with “disappointment” and “dismay” by campaigners.