Tuesday 24 April 2018

HPV vaccine could be extended to teenage boys

Photo: PA
Photo: PA

Eilish O’Regan

A study is to get underway to assess if teenage boys in Ireland should be given the HPV vaccine.

The jab is currently given to teenage schoolgirls to reduce their chances of developing cervical cancer later in life.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) announced today that it will carry out a health technology assessment to determine if it be extended to boys.

A spokesman said HPV is the virus that causes cervical cancer in women- but it is known that there are other cancers associated with this virus that affect both men and women.

These include anal, genital and oropharyngeal (throat) cancer. HPV is associated with the development of penile cancer in men, as well as being the cause of genital warts in both men and women.

HIQA’s Director of Health Technology Assessment and Deputy Chief Executive Dr Máirín Ryan said: “HPV infection is the most commonly acquired sexually transmitted viral infection. In most cases it causes no symptoms and is cleared by the body’s immune system. However, persistent infection can lead to the development of cancer.”

Ireland has a nationally funded, school-based, girls-only HPV immunisation programme. This commenced in 2010 with the quadrivalent (Gardasil®) vaccine which protects against four strains of the HPV virus (6, 11, 16 and 18).

She added: “The HPV vaccine has been proven to be safe. Additionally, it is highly effective at preventing infection with the HPV types most commonly linked with cancer and genital warts in both men and women.

This will investigate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of expanding the HPV vaccination programme to include boys, thereby extending them the opportunity to benefit from the vaccine and increasing HPV immunity in the wider population.”

”HIQA’s assessment will also consider the wider implications of any proposed change to the vaccination programme, such as the budget impact, use of resources, and the ethical and societal implications.”

HIQA is currently forming an expert advisory group comprising representatives from key stakeholder groups who will advise the HTA evaluation team during the course of this assessment.

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