Up to 40,000 gay and bisexual men attending genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics will be offered the HPV vaccine as part of a new pilot programme, the Public Health Minister Jane Ellison has announced yesterday.
The new pilot scheme – to start in June 2016 – will enable the vaccine to be offered to up to 40,000 men via GUM and HIV clinics and the results will inform decisions about a potential national roll out of the programme in the future.
The Government’s independent vaccine experts – the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation – advised that the three dose vaccine should be offered through GUM and HIV clinics to gay and bisexual men who are at high risk of contracting the virus provided that the service can be delivered at a cost effective price.
What Is HPV?
HPV is the name for a group of viruses that affect the skin and moist membranes lining the body such as the cervix, anus, mouth and throat. HPV infections are highly contagious when transmitted sexually.
Some strains of the HPV virus can cause genital warts, and cancers of the anus, penis, mouth and throat. In some cases, it can also cause head and neck cancer.
The HPV vaccine, which has been given to more than three million teenage girls since 2008 to prevent cervical cancer, will be offered to eligible men already attending participating sexual health clinics in England. The pilot is the first step in offering protection to gay and bisexual men.
Gay and Bisexual to Benefit from the Trial
Public Health England is finalising which areas will take part in the pilot scheme. GUM and HIV clinics in locations known to have large gay and bisexual male populations will be among the first to take part in the scheme.
Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison, said,
“We want to make sure that those most at risk are protected from potentially deadly cancers and genital warts and piloting this new programme is a step in the right direction.”
“This pilot builds on the success of the current vaccination programme”
Details about which sexual health clinics will offer the vaccine are being finalised, with some participating clinics aiming to start offering the vaccine to men from June this year.
Minister for Women and Equalities, Nicky Morgan, said:
“This Government is determined to ensure we address the specific health needs of LGBT people. Giving more people deemed at highest risk access to the vaccine will have a real impact on preventing the spread of HPV. The results of the vaccine roll out among girls has been extremely positive and so I’m delighted that we will now see a pilot roll out of the vaccine to gay and bisexual men.”