Boys should be given anti-cancer HPV vaccine, say government advisers

Work is under way to pinpoint the age range of the boys to be targeted with the vaccine

Currently, girls in S1 to S3 across Scotland are offered the injections against the sexually transmitted viruses, to protect against cervical cancer.

The Government is now expected to add HPV vaccination of boys to the immunisation schedule, making the HPV programme gender neutral.

They added: 'Using a 1.5% discount rate it was likely that a gender neutral programme would be cost-effective, and on the basis of these findings the Committee agreed they would advise extending immunisation to adolescent boys, with vaccination offered at the same age as adolescent girls (12-13 years)'.

Boys could get an anti-cancer vaccine now given only to girls after government advisers changed their mind and said it would be cost-effective.

The Department of Health and Social Care has been urged to act quickly on the committee's final report.

The government said it would consider the advice before issuing a formal announcement.

"It will also benefit those girls who, for whatever reason, have not been vaccinated against HPV".

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"We have waited a very long time for this announcement and it is now imperative that ministers accept the JCVI's advice without delay".

"We know from the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation that this will help reduce diagnoses of HPV related cancers and save lives in years to come".

Among those calling for the vaccine to be extended to schoolboys was David Cross, vice-chairman of the British Dental Association's Scottish Council, who said HPV is a key risk factor for oral cancer, a disease that claims more lives in Scotland than auto accidents.

Some strains cause genital warts, and abnormal tissue growth in the cervix, and can sometimes lead to cervical cancer.

The move would bring the United Kingdom into line with around 20 other countries which already recommend vaccination for both sexes.

Experts believe doing so would both increase protection against cervical cancer in girls through "herd immunity", but also protect against mouth and throat cancers in both sexes.

"It has been frustrating that this effective vaccine has, until now, only been available on the NHS to girls but not boys".

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