This site is intended for health professionals only

Campaign promotes genital warts jab

A health group is calling on people to get a vaccine that prevents genital warts this Valentine's Day amid surging cases of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) across the UK.

The British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) said new figures show that cases of the infection have jumped by a third nationwide over the last 10 years.

In response the BASHH has launched a new campaign urging people to pay out for the vaccine (it is not yet available on the NHS) to protect them from the most common viral STI.

At least £46m is spent on treating genital warts cases each year, and a further £4m treating other rare and serious conditions caused by the infection.

A recent survey of sexual health doctors showed their overwhelming support for vaccinating against genital warts as part of the school-based vaccination programme for 12- to 14-year-old girls, established by the government in 2008.

The current HPV vaccine Cervarix, which is administered through the NHS's school-based vaccination programme, only protects against cervical cancer and leaves women at risk of developing genital warts.

Nine in 10 sexual health doctors say they would advise their own daughters to ignore the NHS treatment and instead seek an alternative vaccine, Gardasil, which protects against both conditions, despite being potentially more costly.

The London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham tops the UK chart of genital warts hotspots, with Brighton, Newcastle, Liverpool, and Blackpool rounding off the top five.

Dr Liz Foley, who conducted the research amongst clinicians, said: "The misery of genital warts could be largely eradicated if young people were given the dual-purpose HPV vaccine."

Copyright © Press Association 2011

British Association for Sexual Health and HIV

Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"Having produced executive summaries from all over the world on this subject, I feel that we are a long way off educating patients about vaccination generally. Whether or not sexual activity is encouraged by people believing themselves 'safe' from some infections, I believe that barrier contraception and condom use needs to be incorporated into the education of young people from an early age. Attitudes will vary in different cultures with religious influences affecting some behaviours -
but a deeper understanding of the processes and benefits of vaccination can only be helpful" - Kathleen McGrath, London

"I agree that prevention is better than cure, but we have to get to the ground roots of the problem first. Should we not be promoting the use of condoms more than we are?" - Christine, Bury St Edmunds

"This is like shutting the stable door after the horse has well and truly bolted. Yes this vac. may guard against developing genital warts but heaven help us what about the rampant sexual behaviour that is causing this 'epidemic'? Giving girls a jab and then pretending the problem has ceased to exist is not the answer" - Nurse, Lancs