HPV vaccination decision causes widespread disappointment

HPV vaccination decision causes widespread disappointment

03 Aug 2017

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation's decision not to extend the current school-based HPV vaccination programme for girls to cover boys has been condemned within the dental profession.  Said a spokesperson for the BSDHT, "The decision to only vaccinate girls fails to protect men who have sex with men, men who have sex with unvaccinated women, those who are too old to have been given the vaccine and women from countries where there is no or a limited HPV vaccination programme.  Most people will contract HPV at some point during their lifetime and recover completely. But for others, it can be the start of severe health problems. "
Helen Minnery, President of BSHDT, added: “This is a lifesaving vaccine for both males and females and by only allowing females to be vaccinated, it is an act of discrimination.”
 Over 2,000 men are diagnosed with HPV-related cancer each year in the UK – HPV cancers actually now represent 5 per cent of all cancers. The virus can also cause genital warts.
12 and 13-year-old girls have been vaccinated against HPV in the UK since 2008 and gender-neutral vaccination has been considered since 2013.
Said Dr Nigel Carter, CEO of The Oral Health Foundation  "Rejecting a gender-neutral HPV vaccination on the grounds of cost effectiveness has long been proven to be a majorly flawed argument.
The costs of treating HPV-related diseases are a considerable burden on the NHS. The cost of treating anogenital warts alone in the UK is an estimated £58.44 million a year; the secondary care costs of treating HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer are likely to exceed £21 million a year. By comparison, the additional cost of vaccinating boys has been estimated at about £20 million a year.
This decision seems to be a case of saving money today but costing many, many times more in the future as a result. This is not just in terms of money either; this cost will also be felt in the lives of many people."
However, Dr Carter was keen to point out that the JCVI has yet to make a final decision, he said: "It’s very important to highlight that this is an ‘interim’ recommendation and the JCVI is currently consulting on its verdict, with a final recommendation to be made in October. So, with this in mind, we want the dental world to reinforce its overwhelming support with the hope of getting the decision reconsidered on equality, ethical and morality grounds."

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