Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection that is responsible for 5% of all cancers. The most common HPV-related cancer is cervical, and in the UK 12 and 13 year-old girls are offered HPV vaccination through the NHS childhood immunisation programme. However the government, has not extended the immunisation to boys, arguing that they receive ‘herd immunity’ through the vaccination programme for girls. However not every girl is immunised, and men are not protected from catching HPV from unvaccinated women. It has been suggested this position is not only bad policy, but also unethical and possibly in breach of the Equality Act.
The second most common HPV-related cancer is oropharyngeal, and in the US it is projected that this will be the most common by 2020. Over 2,000 men a year in the UK are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer, with roughly half that number dying from the condition within five years of diagnosis. This number could be considerably reduced by making the NHS childhood HPV vaccination programme gender-blind. This is the subject of a campaign led by the organisation HPV Action. The FGDP is now in full support of HPV’s campaign. Details can be found at http://www.hpvaction.org/uploads/1/7/8/5/17850843/jabs-for-boys-report.pdf