The FACTS about HPV
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What is HPV?
Human Papillomavirus is a highly contagious virus that lives on the skin. The virus is extremely contagious and it is estimated that 80% of the population will have an HPV infection at some point in their lifetime. The majority of people infected by HPV will not experience any serious health issues, but if the virus does not resolve, it can lead to other, more serious diseases.
Does HPV cause cancer?
HPV is the causal agent of around 5% of all cancer cases worldwide, along with genital warts and laryngeal papillomas.
HPV has been recognised and publicised as the cause of cervical, vaginal and vulvar cancers, causing many to believe that HPV is a women-only issue. HPV is increasingly being acknowledged as a cause of specific cancers which affect many other body parts, including anal, penile, and head and neck cancer. These cancers are rising dramatically in men.
below: HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18 have been related to the following cases of disease in Europe:
Is there a vaccination?
Three vaccines are approved to protect people from the high-risk HPV strains that cause the most cancers. Two of these vaccines are approved for use in all males and females while one is approved only for females.
All male and female children in the US under 26 are recommended to receive the HPV vaccine. Routine vaccination is recommended at the ages of 11 or 12 during their pre-teen check-up, but the vaccination series can begin as young as 9.
In the UK, all female children are recommended to receive the vaccine at 12 and 13 — it has been announced that UK boys will receive the vaccine at the same age although a time frame has not been given for when this programme would begin. In many countries boys are not protected.
A gender-neutral virus needs a gender-neutral vaccine.
We are campaigning to introduce global, gender-neutral vaccination to protect all children from the devastating carcinogen, HPV. While successful vaccination programmes for girls have been initiated in many countries, much less has been done to vaccinate males. We believe that vaccinating females only is inadequate, discriminatory, and fails to acknowledge that men must be included in policy in order to significantly decrease HPV-related cancers.
By taking action now, we have the power to stop an epidemic while reducing the economic and social burdens of treatment for cancer and genital warts. The world has used vaccines to eradicate many infectious diseases such as smallpox and polio–it is time that we add HPV and the devastation it causes to the list.
Is the vaccine safe?
HPV vaccinations are very safe and are closely monitored by organisations such as the European Medicines Agency and World Health Organisation.
The Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) considers HPV vaccines to be extremely safe.
NHS researchers looked at studies of 73,428 girls and women and concluded it was safe and effective.
Which countries vaccinate boys?
An increasing number of countries are now recommending vaccinating boys, including Australia, Austria, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Italy, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland. In the USA, we successfully advocated for the vaccine approval for males, but vaccine rates are still below 50%. On the 24th July 2018, Minister Steve Brine MP announced that UK boys will receive the HPV vaccine.
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