Sunday 12 July 2020

Vaccinate boys too against sexually-transmitted virus, says health council


Boys should be vaccinated against the HPV virus, according to the Dutch health council.

The human papillomavirus is implicated in causing various types of cancers in men and women, including cervical cancer, and it is the most common sexually transmitted infection.

Girls are currently offered vaccinations against the two most common strains of the virus when they are between 12 and 13, but now the health council is advising that vaccinations should be given to both boys and girls, and at the age of nine.

It has also recommended to the health ministry that young people up to the age of 26 should be offered the vaccinations to raise the level of herd immunity.

Currently, reports the NOS broadcaster, 200 women a year die from cervical cancer, and 600 people die from mouth and throat cancers – which can also be caused by the virus.

Although vaccinations began for girls in the Netherlands in 2010, the uptake rate has always been relatively modest, falling from 61% in 2014 to 45.5% in 2016. Last year, the NHS in the UK announced that boys in England would also be vaccinated.

Although health bodies talked about providing ‘indirect protection’ to boys by vaccinating girls, it is unclear why the vaccination was not offered to both sexes from the start. HPV infections can spread through any skin-to-skin contact and the vaccine is most effective if administered at an age before someone becomes sexually active.

Most people currently catch the virus, which also causes genital warts, at some time in their lives.

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