Some 100,000 cases of cancer could be prevented in Britain in the next 40 years by a vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes cancers of the cervix, mouth, anus and genitals, United Kingdom health officials said on Tuesday.
RCGP chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard echoed the BMA's sentiment: 'There is very strong evidence that shows the HPV vaccine can protect people from a virus that can trigger a wide range of cancers that affect both men and women, so it is vital that as many eligible boys and girls as possible get inoculated.
The National Health Service (NHS) will offer the vaccine free to boys in Year Eight of secondary schools across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - 11 years after the measure was introduced for girls.
Giving boys the vaccine protects girls from the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is passed on through sexual contact. The virus has also been linked to some forms of head and neck cancers.
Girls aged 12 to 13 have been provided the HPV vaccine since 2008 in the UK.
"Through our world-leading vaccination programme, we have already saved millions of lives and prevented countless cases of awful diseases".
The vaccine is a mimic of the virus particle, but when administered into someone's muscle, it creates many more antibodies than a natural infection would, according to John Doorbar, professor of viral pathogenesis at the University of Cambridge. A Scottish study also showed that the vaccine has reduced pre-cancerous cervical disease in women by up to 71%. "That is why it's so important to have a universal vaccination program, because it'll not only decrease existing inequalities and normalize this very common virus, but also protect more number of people from developing cancer and save lives", said Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust's Chief Executive, Robert Music.
Estimates from the University of Warwick suggest the vaccine, which protects against the human papilloma virus (HPV), will prevent 64,138 cervical cancers and 49,649 non-cervical cancers in the United Kingdom by 2058. That would include some 30,000 cancer cases in males.
PHE called on the parents of eligible boys and girls to take up the offer as the vaccine may be less effective as adolescents get older.
Head of Immunisation at Public Health England, Dr Mary Ramsay, said: "This universal programme offers us the opportunity to make HPV-related diseases a thing of the past and build on the success of the girls' programme". The protection lasts for 10 years or more depending on various factors.
The USA is one of the few other countries to offer the vaccine to boys. This has helped the HPV rate among women of 18-24 years of age to drop to 1% from 22% during the period 2005-2015. "The latter is now increasing in incidence, but this trend will be turned around as the vaccination program takes effect in the future", BBC quoted him. This follows the recommendation by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
One user replied to his tweet by saying 'just as importantly, it protects the boys from penile, anal, and oral cancers, ' whilst another commented 'great vaccination program but bad tweet!
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