In 2008, the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunizations started a program in UK meant to attack the human papilloma virus, responsible for causing cancer. The virus spreads through genital or oral contact. However, the HPV vaccination program included only girls aged 12 or 13. The program was designed on the idea that men who have sex with vaccinated women are protected, and this doesn’t include gay men.
Recently, Government advisers suggested that the HPV vaccine should also be available for men who have sex with men. JCVI has made an official announcement according to which “a targeted HPV vaccination programme for MSM aged up to 45 who attend GUM and HIV clinics should be undertaken.”
The Committee added the necessity of the HPV vaccination among at-risk groups including sex workers, HIV-positive women, HIV-positive men and transgender women.
Rob Young from NUS LGBT+ highlighted the importance of bringing this problem into discussion, and how the gap in the health care of LGBT individuals has attenuated, but there’s still more to be considered:
“This is a huge advancement in bridging the gap health care inequalities for LGBT individuals, but this vaccination should be extended to all boys from an early age in order for the vaccination to be at its most effective.
“We know that statistically men who sleep with men are more prone to anal and throat cancers because of HPV.
“I hope that its implementation through GUM and HIV clinics will ensure we are vaccinating as many men who have sex with men as possible for it to be a truly preventative measure.
“The government already spends £60 million per year on treating genital warts, which if left untreated can cause head and neck, penile and anal cancers.”