Call for boys to get cervical cancer jab

Scotland on Sunday

Published Date: 12 April 2009

EVERY schoolboy in Scotland should be vaccinated against the virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer to stop them passing the infection to girls, leading experts demanded last night.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, Cancer Research UK and a number of senior doctors want boys vaccinated before they become sexually active.
Schoolgirls are already receiving jabs tha t prevent them being infected by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The Scottish Government is currently refusing to back an extension of the vaccination programme to boys, saying such a move would not be “cost effective”.

Ministers are spending £64m on the immunisation programme, which it is hoped will save up to 100 lives a year. Around 30,000 girls over 12 are being vaccinated by school nurses.

But Henry Annan, spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said the refusal to extend the programme to boys was “defeatist”.

Annan, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, said: “Scientifically it makes sense that if you want to vaccinate young girls then boys should also be vaccinated, otherwise it’s a bit defeatist, because they will still have HPV. It is sensible and it’s a question of whether the Government wants to take it up.”

His concerns were echoed by Ellen Hudson, associate director of the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland.

She said: “The HPV vaccination programme is extremely important in the battle against cervical cancer.

“Eradication of cervical cancer should be our goal, and to achieve this the vaccination programme should be extended to boys.”

So far, 92% of Scottish schoolgirls had the first of the three required doses. But there are serious concerns that uptake is far lower among school leavers.

Plans to immunise up to 120,000 older girls over the next three years in a ¬£1.7m “catch-up” campaign are in doubt because plans for all family doctors to provide the cervical cancer jab collapsed.

Instead school leavers are being invited to attend makeshift clinics and it is unclear whether this is proving successful.

PG

Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.