Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that 4 out of 5 (80%) of us will get at least once in our lives.
Both men and women can get HPV. Usually, our immune system gets rid of HPV without causing any problems. We may never know we had it.
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Types of HPV
There are over 200 types of HPV. These affect the skin and moist membranes (mucosa). In men, this includes the:
- skin of the penis
- the lining of the mouth and throat.
About 40 HPV types can affect the genital area. About 13 of these 40 genital HPV types are linked to cancer. These types of HPV are called high-risk.
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HPV and cancer
Overall, 5% of all cancers worldwide are linked to high-risk HPV. In men, high-risk HPV infection is linked to cancers such as:
- some head and neck cancers.
Read more about HPV-related cancers >
The HPV types that are not linked to cancers are called low-risk HPV. Low-risk HPV (usually types 6 and 11) can cause genital warts.
Read more about genital warts >
Are boys offered the HPV vaccine in schools?
Yes. All pupils, including boys, are offered the HPV vaccine free in schools from:
- age 11 to 13 in Scotland
- age 12 to 13 in the rest of UK.
They can also get the HPV vaccine free from the GP up to age 18.
Read more about who can have the HPV vaccine >
How does the HPV vaccine benefit boys?
Offering boys the HPV vaccine:
- helps protect them against high-risk HPV types 16 and 18 that are linked to some cancers, including anal and penile cancer
- helps protect them against HPV types 6 and 11, that cause around 9 in 10 (90%) cases of genital warts
- strengthens herd protection – this means helping protect anyone (male or female) who is not vaccinated or is under-vaccinated (has not had the required doses).
The HPV vaccine for men who have sex with men (MSM)
Men who have sex with men (MSM) can get the HPV vaccine for free in sexual health clinics across the UK:
- In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland there is no lower age limit. You cn have the HPV vaccine up to age 45.
- In Wales, you can have the HPV vaccine between ages 15 and 45.
More information about the HPV vaccine for boys and men
If you have questions about HPV or the HPV vaccine, you can ask your question to our panel of experts.
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HPV Action – Jabs for the Boys
Provides information about how HPV (human papillomavirus) affects boys and men, and offers guidance on the HPV vaccine.
- Spence T et al., HPV Associated Head and Neck Cancer, Cancers, 2016.
- CRUK, Anal Cancer Statistics, http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/anal-cancer#heading-Three [last accessed: June 2018].
- CRUK, Penile Cancer Statistics, http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/penile-cancer#heading-Three [last accessed: June 2018].
- Kmietowicz Z., Boys should be given HPV vaccine, says joint committee, BMJ, July 2018