'I can't lose my sons too' - Jade Goody's ex Jeff Brazier on why he's vaccinating his boys against HPV
TV presenter Jeff Brazier is supporting a UK campaign to raise awareness about the risks posed by human papillomavirus (HPV) to men and spoke about his fears of losing his own sons to cancer.
Brazier (37) has raised his sons Freddie (11) and Bobby (12) on his own since their mother Jade Goody's death in 2009. Goody died aged 27 after a short battle with cervical cancer.
Almost 75pc of cervical cancers are caused by HPV, but the virus can also be the cause of cancer in the penis, throat and anus in men.
Currently in the UK and Ireland, girls are vaccinated against the virus on a public scheme by the NHS and HSE respectively, however boys are not vaccinated despite being at risk of cancer later in life.
Brazier is campaigning for young men to receive the vaccination like their female peers in the UK, and explained his own personal motivation behind his envolvement.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, the dad-of-two said: "Even despite all the awareness raising Jade did about cancer, I wasn't aware of the risks related to HPV for my sons.
"HPV is typically seen as a female issue. But I'll definitely be getting them vaccinated now.
"Jade's death may have been HPV-related so as a family we know first-hand how heart-breaking the consequences of the virus can be. Jade would want me to do all I can to protect our boys and I can't lose them too."
The presenter shared his thoughts about HPV to launch a new private vaccination service by Boots in the UK for young men. In Ireland, parents can also vaccinate their sons privately, should they wish.
Speaking to the Irish Independent earlier this year, Dr Brenda Corcoran, Head of the HSE Immunisation Office dispelled suggestions that the HPV vaccine is unsafe, after a drop in the number of girls getting the jab was reported.
"You may have heard stories that the HPV vaccine is unsafe and causes harm. This is simply untrue.
"Over 220,000 girls in Ireland have safely received the HPV vaccine, along with 100 million people worldwide in countries like the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Not one of these people anywhere in the world has been medically proven to have had a long term side effect from getting the vaccine.
"HPV vaccine protects against cervical cancer and saves lives. Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide.
"Each year in Ireland around 300 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 90 die from the disease.
"Furthermore, every year over 6,500 Irish women are diagnosed with precancerous abnormalities of the cervix caused by HPV and need hospital treatment. All cervical cancers are linked to high risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV) types."