Jab for boys to prevent cancer caused by sex - expert

Giving boys the HPV injection would be a good way to reduce the number of people suffering from cancers caused by oral sex - expert.Photo / Thinkstock
Giving boys the HPV injection would be a good way to reduce the number of people suffering from cancers caused by oral sex - expert.Photo / Thinkstock

Teenage boys should also be given the HPV vaccine, a leading health expert has said.

Professor John Ashton, President of the Faculty of Public Health, says vaccination should not be restricted to teenage girls.

He believes that giving boys the injection would be a good way to reduce the number of people suffering from cancers caused by oral sex.

"We need to talk more about the risks of oral sex and educate people about them," Professor Ashton said.

Recent comments from actor Michael Douglas' have helped raise awareness of the links between certain types of HPV and cancer.

"The biggest risks for cancer are, of course, smoking and drinking. But many people, particularly teenagers, don't realise the risks of unprotected oral sex.

"It's important we give our children and young people all the information they need so that they fully understand what safe sex is and how to protect themselves by using condoms and dental dams.

"That's why it makes sense to give teenage boys as well as girls the HPV vaccine, which is already happening in Australia.

"We need to protect everyone from the risks of HPV, particularly men who have sex with men."

Currently in NZ, the vaccine is available free for girls and young women aged from 12 to 20.

Also supporting the call is the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), the lead professional representative body for those managing sexually transmitted diseases and HIV in the UK.

BASHH President, Dr Janet Wilson said: "With increasing HPV-related cancer risks from oral sex, we clearly need to raise awareness and promote safer sex among young people and high-risk groups, such as men who have sex with men.

"However, more urgently, we need to take action to address the lack of protection men who have sex with men receive from the current all-girls HPV vaccination programme.

"There is now widespread agreement, including within government, that it is unfair that they remain unprotected."

"We are pleased that the Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation is looking in to the possibility of widening the HPV vaccination programme to look specifically at men who have sex with men.

"The serious and increasing rates of HPV-related cancers specifically among men who have sex with men mean that we simply cannot afford to delay."

HPV, also called human papillomavirus, is a group of more than 150 viruses. More than 40 of these viruses can be spread through skin-to-skin contact during sex and oral sex.

More than half of sexually active people are infected with one or more HPV at some point in their life.

Low-risk HPVs do not cause cancer but can cause warts. However, some high-risk HPVs can cause cancer.

High-risk HPV infection is responsible for about five per cent of all cancers worldwide.

Persistent infection with high-risk HPVs can cause lesions that, if untreated, may develop into cancer.

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV infections.

HPV also causes anal, vaginal, vulvar and penile cancer.

Recently, the virus has also been linked to throat cancer.

What is the link between HPV and cancer?

HPV, also called human papillomavirus, is a group of more than 150 viruses. More than 40 of these viruses can be spread through skin-to-skin contact during sex and oral sex.

More than half of sexually active people are infected with one or more HPV at some point in their life.

Low-risk HPVs do not cause cancer but can cause warts.

However, some high-risk HPVs can cause cancer.

High-risk HPV infection is responsible for about five per cent of all cancers.

Persistent infection with high-risk HPVs can cause lesions that if untreated, may develop into cancer.

Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV infections.

HPV also causes anal, vaginal and penile cancer.

Recently, the virus has also been linked to throat cancer.

- DAILY MAIL

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