Vaccination against HPV started in England in 2003 and was offered to girls aged 12 and 13. All the publicity around the launch related to prevention of cervical cancer which is caused by HPV, a sexually transmitted virus. Take up was a little hesitant at first: many parents found it quite difficult to put their young daughters forward for vaccination against a sexually transmitted disease even with the aim of preventing cervical cancer. The uptake now is high as the vaccine has become part of the standard routine round of vaccinations.
We should be proud that we live in the first country in the world to bring in this vaccine on a national scale. But we should be ashamed I believe that we are one of the last western countries to offer that same protection to boys and young men.
Sexually transmitted diseases involve both genders by their very definition and genital warts, caused by HPV , are now the commonest sexually transmitted disease. One sixth of all STDs are genital warts: its a very significant problem, disfiguring, difficult to treat and causing considerable distress.
Half of the cases of genital warts are in young men aged 20-24; they are unvaccinated. Many of the young women in this age group are protected from genital warts by the vaccine they had in their early teens. Until the Department of Health remedies this inequity we can only suggest that parents of sons consider vaccination for those boys on a private basis. Gardasil 9 vaccine is available for boys from aged 9 upwards in private medical setting. Please feel free to talk to one of our GPs about this.