19 November 2015

The British Dental Health Foundation believes the UK government's vaccination advisory committees (JCVI) decision to extend HPV vaccinations to men aged 16-40 who have sex with men (MSM) via sexual health clinics, while a positive move, does not go far enough.

Speaking on the announcement Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: "We welcome this decision and vaccinations for MSM are a step forward but we feel that this change in policy does not go nearly far enough.

"We echo the statement from HPV Action, a coalition on 43 patient and professional organisations which advocates gender-neutral HPV vaccination, in saying many more thousands of people will continue to go unprotected under these guidelines.

"All men who have sex with women remain at risk of infection if those women have not been vaccinated themselves.

"Also vaccinating MSM who attend sexual health clinics is not the best way to approach the programme, this is because many MSM do not attend sexual health clinics, with the average age of first attendance being 28.

"The key decision on whether to vaccinate all adolescent boys is still too far away, with a decision due in 2017 at the earliest, even if that decision is positive the implementation may not happen until 2020. With every year that passes, 400,000 more boys are left unprotected against HPV-related diseases.

"We will continue to support HPV Action and use our voice to drive forward an earlier decision."

HPV is a leading cause of mouth cancer and can be transferred through oral sex; cases of mouth cancer have seen a huge increase in the last decade and many experts predict HPV to overtake smoking as the leading cause of mouth cancer in the future.

Every year more than 7,000 Brits are diagnosed with mouth cancer, with the disease taking in excess of 2,000 lives - more than testicular and cervical cancer combined.

HPV Action Campaign Director Peter Baker recently spoke at the launch of Mouth Cancer Action Month at the House of Commons where he urged MPs to urgently change current HPV vaccination programme to help save thousands of lives from cancer.

Mr Baker responded to the JCVI decision: "HPV Action hopes the government now makes a speedy decision to vaccinate all boys. Vaccinating some MSM is a step forward but is not sufficient to protect the UK population as a whole from a range of serious but preventable HPV-related diseases.

"Vaccinating all boys could cost about the same as Wayne Rooney's annual salary at Manchester United but, following the announcement by the JCVI, parents are left in a position where their daughters are protected but not most of their sons."