2 Feb 2018

Cancer campaigners are calling for greater public awareness of the diseases that can be prevented in the UK through human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations for boys and men, as well as girls and women. 

As part of World Cancer Day 2018 [Sunday 4 February], The Jabs for the Boys initiative, which aims to improve public education about HPV and the HPV vaccination, is drawing attention to the significant number of cancers caused by HPV in men, and how these can be prevented by an effective vaccination.

HPV is thought to be responsible for around 5% of all cancers worldwide, including cervical, head and neck, penile and anal cancer. 

HPV Action, the group behind Jabs for the Boys, estimates that each year around 2,000 cases of cancer in men in the UK are a direct result of HPV infection. HPV also causes genital warts, the most common sexual health problem caused by a virus, in men as well as women.

Peter Baker, Campaign Director of HPV Action, says: "HPV infection is as likely to occur in men as it is in women, with around 80% affected at some point in their lives, yet for many, the risks to men often go overlooked.

"Most men, and many women, are unaware that a simple HPV vaccination could prevent a number of potentially life-threatening cancers. 

"In the UK, adolescent girls have been vaccinated for HPV since 2008 and women over 25 have access to free cervical screening.

"Boys are currently excluded from free of charge HPV vaccinations by the NHS, while men cannot access any form of screening programme for HPV-related diseases.

"Men who have sex with men are eligible for free vaccination at sexual health clinics but only if they are attending for another reason, such as treatment of a sexually transmitted infection.

"For most people, HPV goes away without the person knowing they have been infected, but because some people can go on to develop related diseases I would encourage the parents of boys, as well as adult men, to seriously consider the option of vaccination. Boys and men can now get vaccinated at a range of pharmacies and private clinics."

HPV Action's website, www.jabsfortheboys.uk, looks to boost public knowledge of HPV while offering advice and guidance to the parents of boys, boys themselves and adult men about the pros and cons of HPV vaccination, to help them make the decision about whether to have the vaccination privately.

HPV Action has made its appeal ahead of World Cancer Day 2018 this Sunday [4th February]. A day dedicated to uniting millions of people in the global fight against cancer. 

World Cancer Day is your chance to reflect on what you can do to fight cancer, explore what you - as an individual or working with others - can do to help reduce the global burden of cancer. Just as cancer affects everyone in different ways, everyone can take steps to reduce the impact that cancer has on individuals, families and communities.

Find out more about World Cancer Day at http://www.worldcancerday.org/.