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Following the announcement that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has still not reached a decision on extending the HPV vaccination to boys, Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said:
“Along with many others, I am disappointed to see a decision on including boys in the HPV vaccination programmes has not been reached, however it is positive to see that the committee is still working on its final recommendation. We hope to see the equality analysis of gender-neutral vaccination completed soon. Including boys in the HPV vaccination programme presents an exciting and unique opportunity to reduce diagnoses of HPV related cancers in future generations which will lead to lives being saved. Discussions over inequality must be paramount. HPV does not discriminate between boys and girls or men and women and a vaccination against the virus should not either. If we do not see the gender-neutral vaccination introduced, we will see incidences of cancer that could have been prevented and simply should not be the case.
"While we are waiting on a final decision we must not lose focus of the current programme or risk getting complacent. While uptake among girls is high, it has fallen in the last year with significant variation across the country. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV so if we are to protect more young women from the disease, increasing uptake must remain a priority alongside increasing knowledge and understanding of HPV across all ages.”
The Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes 99.7% of all cervical cancers and the current vaccination programme in the UK offers girls the HPV vaccine in school. The vaccine protects against two high-risk types of HPV (16 and 18) that cause at least 70% of all cervical cancer. However, HPV is also responsible for cancer such as anal, penile and head and neck cancers which affect both men and women.