23/09/2014 15:54 BST | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Should Boys Be Offered The HPV Vaccine?


Schoolboys as well as girls should be given the HPV jab to prevent rising rates of cancer, according to experts.

The vaccine is currently given to girls aged 12 and 13 to protect against the human papillomavirus, which causes cervical cancer.

But the virus is actually thought to trigger five per cent of all cancers worldwide including those affecting 2,000 men a year.

Girls have been offered the jab on a voluntary basis since 2008 and around 80 per cent have it.

But Peter Baker, Campaign Director of HPV, said it was 'blatantly unfair' that women were protected from cancers and other diseases caused by HPV infection while men were not.

He said: "Men will continue to die from HPV-related diseases unless the government acts to extend the national vaccination programme to all adolescent boys.

"This would only cost about £20-£22 million a year and, in the long run, save the money spent by the NHS on treatment as well as reducing human suffering.

"If parents knew that their sons as well as their daughters could be protected from the virus that causes five per cent of all cancers, then I'm sure most would also agree."

A committee of experts working for the Department of Health are now to decide whether boys aged 12 to 13 should also be offered the vaccine.

Campaigners say it would save lives, avoid needless suffering and spare the NHS millions of pounds in treatment costs.

The vaccines would be offered on a voluntary basis to boys at school and would cost the health service up to £22 million annually.

HPV is spread via sexual contact and causes cervical cancer in women as well as cancer of the throat, anus and penis.

The experts – the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation –are expected to make a final decision next month.