'It’s very distressing, all the patients I treat with it are very upset' - GP on why boys should get HPV vaccine
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is now so common that 80 per cent of Irish men and women will get the virus at some point in their lives.
The HSE currently offers the HPV vaccination to girls in their first year of secondary school.
However, Dr Philip Kieran, a resident GP on RTE’s ‘You should really see a doctor’, believes it should also be offered to boys.
He says vaccinating boys as well as girls would not only help to prevent the spread of the virus to others, it would also prevent HPV-related cancers in both males and females, by helping the immune system fight and clear the HPV infection.
“I think extending the HPV vaccine to boys is an important thing to be doing. Let’s say we vaccinate everyone who is eligible for it, and we have a huge part of the population still carrying the virus, then they’re there to potentially infect other people.”
In women, certain types of HPV can cause cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancer and genital warts.
For men, certain types of HPV can cause anal cancer and genital warts. HPV is also associated penile cancer and head and neck cancers
Dr Kieran said: “HPV causes genital warts which is the most common STI there is; it’s very distressing, all the patients I treat with it are very upset by it.”
“There is a genetic component to it as well. For men who get HPV and their immune system clears the virus, then they’re low risk, but then if their immune system doesn’t get rid of the virus and then the person does a high risk activity like smoking, then their risk is higher.”
“I would love to see the HSE fund the HPV vaccine for boys, I talk to patients about the vaccine, and I’ve been talking to mothers about getting the vaccinations for their sons. It’s quite an expensive vaccine, Irish Life Health are talking about introducing a reimbursement for it.”
“Vaccinating both girls and boys would be very good for the health of the population in general, and probably cost effective.”
“I would talk to patients about it and because it’s such a foreign concept with people who know it as the cervical cancer vaccine, the uptake is low.”
The vaccination is €200 per dose, and depending on when and how its given, it can require two to three doses, according to Dr Kieran.
“You’re talking between €400 and €600.”
Dr Philip Kieran was speaking on behalf of Irish Life Health who offer up to €200 back on the cost of the HPV vaccine for both boys and girls, on a range of our plans.