Australia will become the first country in the world to administer the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) to all teenage boys as a matter of course. HPV is the virus that causes genital warts as well as various types of cancer including cervical and anal as is passed through sexual contact.
It is expected that the introduction of the vaccine to boys come into force early next year and should significantly lower the risk of infection to the young population of Australia, including gay men who are considered to be in the highest risk group in Australia. The vaccine is already routenly given to teenage girls and has shown a reduction in the number of cases presenting.
“Every parent wants their child to be healthy and that is why the Australian Government is delivering the best protection we have against HPV related cancer through this vaccine.“ Australian Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said recently. “By building on Australia’s world-class immunization program, we’re stopping preventable HPV related disease and cancers, and that makes a difference to the quality of life of our families. Already the HPV vaccine has had an impact – significantly reducing the number of lesions that lead to cervical cancer amongst women in the vaccinated age group. It is estimated that a quarter of new infections will be avoided by extending the vaccine to boys.”
In the UK the British Association Of Sexual Health and HIV made a call to the government stating the HPV virus vaccine should be administered free to gay men. A suggestion backed by the HIV/AIDS charity Terrence Higgins Trust among others.