Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of very common viral infections that affect your skin and the moist membranes lining your body. There are over 130 strains; some of which cause no visible symptoms; through to simple hand warts or verrucas; through to the sexually-transmitted infection genital warts; but some high-risk strains can cause a wide range of cancers (cervix, vagina, vulva, penis, anus and back of the throat).
Transmission occurs by intimate skin-to-skin contact i.e. full intercourse is not required for HPV transmission.
Most HPV infections are short-lived, and are cleared naturally by your immune system, but if an infection persists long-term, it can cause disease, and this is what we are trying to prevent with the introduction of the HPV vaccination in the UK in 2012.
As mentioned in my last blog about HPV vaccination from October last year, unfortunately in July 2017, the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) announced that they were unable to recommend an extension of the national HPV programme to include adolescent boys, despite 11 countries (including Australia, Austria, Italy, and Norway) already vaccinating boys or will be doing so in the near future, as well as the US routinely including HPV vaccination for males since 2009.
However the great news is that a year later, the JCVI changed its respected opinion and announced that boys between 12 and 13 years of age will be vaccinated, so there should be gender neutral national HPV vaccination programme rolled out by September next year, and we await to find out more about catch-up programmes for those boys aged 13-15 who will have missed this programme.
The aim of HPV vaccination is to give before the person comes in to contact with the virus i.e. before they are sexually active, however it is still safe to have the vaccine once you are sexually active.
At ROC Private Clinic, we continue to offer Gardasil9 (against 9 different strains of HPV) to all boys and girls aged 9 through to 26, and to all gay men and transgender people up to the age of 45.