British Medical Association urges for gay men to receive HPV vaccine

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A vaccine against HPV should be extended to young gay men, the BMA has told the Department of Health.

The Human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cervical, penile, anal and throat cancers, as well as genital and anal warts.

The NHS already provides vaccination of young girls, between 12 and 13, against HPV, which has proved successful in reducing the incidence of infections since its introduction in 2008.

In June 2012, Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley called for a change in health policy for gay men.

He said: “I don’t see why gay men should be left out. If you want to reduce the antisocial transmission of viruses and if we want to reduce anal cancers the same way we reduce cervical cancers, we need to be open about where the gaps are.”

Data from Australia has shown that heterosexual men gain protection from the virus through herd immunity if women are vaccinated, but no such protection is afforded to gay men.

Last year, the vaccine was changed from Cervarix to Gardasil, which protects against the strains of HPV that cause genital warts as well as those that cause cancers.

BMA public health medicine committee co-chair Penelope Toff has written to Health Minister Anna Soubry in support of the change.

The letter also supports offering Gardasil to gay men. The letter suggests administering Gardasil as an add-on vaccination for patients vaccinated against hepatitis B.