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Boys 'should get HPV vaccination'

Boys should be vaccinated against the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus because around half of men have the infection, an academic has said.

The virus is know to cause cervical cancer in women and is responsible for a big increase in the number of people with oral cancers.

Girls in the UK aged 12-13 have been routinely vaccinated against HPV since 2008.

Research carried out at Florida's Cancer Centre and Research Institute and recently published in The Lancet claimed that 50% of men have HPV and that an extra 6% of men develop the cancer-causing HPV type 16 every year. The journal article has led to calls for boys in the UK to be given the vaccine jab.

The virus is also believed to cause genital warts and anal cancers.

Lawrence Young, who runs the College of Medical and Dental Sciences at the University of Birmingham, said: "HPV vaccination of men would not only contribute to preventing cervical cancer in women but also impact on the rising incidence of HPV-associated oral cancer, a tumour which has risen by 50% in men in the UK since 1989 and accounts for almost 2,000 deaths per year."

The study analysed 1,159 men aged 18 to 70 years from the US, Brazil, and Mexico. It found that men who had 50 or more female sexual partners were 2.4 times more likely to have the cancer-causing HPV infection compared with those with one partner or no partners.

Past research suggests that about eight out of 10 sexually active women will catch HPV at some point in their lives. The infection clears itself up within two years in 80% of cases but women are at a higher risk than men of re-infection.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

The Lancet article on HPV

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"We have been saying boys should be vaccinated as well from the beginning, it stands to reason that we can not eradicate an illness with only half the population vaccinated" - Theresa Mulroy

"Maybe we should give boys Gardasil and this would prevent spread of more strains of virus in the long run as opposed to more strain specific vaccine for girls" -  jbjones, London

"Yes, This is well overdue as they are part and parcel of the equation.
Hopefully this will be the missing link in the health promotion strategy" - Arlene Cameron, Northwest

"YES - it's obvious! I have worked as a practice nurse providing the HPV
vacc to girls and women  up to 25 y of age, ~I feel strongly that it is a
national scandal that teenage boys are not included in the programme.
Similar to the MMR when it was first given?!" - Jane, Wales

"Yes we have the evidence, more men have anal cancer than women with cervical cancer at the peak of cervical cancer but yet we don't seem to do much about it?" - Kathy French, Bromley

"They need to carry out more research before this can be demonstrated on boys. And what type of cancer will the HPV prevent? If this is to prevent oral cancer, I think the jab should be extended to other age group in female also. It will be more acceptable if there could be a test to detect those that really need to take the jab. Research might detect this type of test in the future. Who knows?" - Maryam Omitogun, Greater London