Let’s make HPV-related cancers a thing of the past!
Victory in fight against cancer confirmed
Victory in the campaign for teenage boys to be given the vaccination against HPV was confirmed today by the Government.
Health ministers in Wales and Scotland have also announced that they will introduce vaccination for boys and it is hoped that Northern Ireland will also follow suit.
The news is greatly to be welcomed and I think campaigners can raise a glass in celebration of a job well done and a campaign well-fought over the past few years.
Girls aged 12 and 13 have been offered vaccinations against the human papilloma virus (HPV) since 2008 to protect them from cervical cancer but HPV is also a major cause of mouth and throat cancers which have been rising among the male population.
Announcing that the vaccination programme is to be extended in England, Public Health Minister Steve Brine (right) said: “The HPV vaccine for girls is already expected to save hundreds of lives every year and I am delighted that we will now be protecting even more people from this devastating disease by extending the vaccines to boys.”
Dr Mary Ramsay, Head of Immunisations at Public Health England, was also upbeat.
She said: “This extended programme offers us the opportunity to make HPV related diseases a thing of the past and build on the success of the girls’ programme, which has already reduced the prevalence of HPV 16 and 18, the main cancer-causing types, by over 80%.
“We can now be even more confident that we will reduce cervical and other cancers in both men and women in the future.”
I could not agree more – the UK will now be in a strong position to defeat the cause of many types of cancer, saving hundreds of lives and preventing thousands of people from having to go through the misery of cancer treatment.
The decision to extend vaccinations to boys means that we will no longer be fighting HPV-related cancers with one hand tied behind our backs and the double whammy of protecting both teenage boys and girls will also help further reduce the risk of cancer through the process of herd immunity.
This is a real milestone in the battle against cancer and I congratulate the Government on its prompt response to the experts’ advice.