New vaccine programme for gay men is introduced in Wales
HPV infections which persist can lead to some forms of cancers or cause genital warts
A new vaccination programme for men who have sex with other men has been rolled out across Wales.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is now being offered to all gay men up to 45 years old who attend sexual health clinics.
The rollout comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which provides independent advice to governments across the UK, recommended the introduction of a targeted programme of this type.
HPV infections which persist can lead to some forms of cancers or cause genital warts. Experts claim the HPV vaccine is very effective in reducing these risks.
Public Health Minister Rebecca Evans said: “A HPV vaccine programme for adolescent girls has been in place since 2008.
“Vaccinating the majority of girls in the UK means that their future male partners get some protection too. However boys who become men who have sex with men will get far less of this protection.
“I am pleased that a new targeted HPV vaccination programme for gay men up to the age of 45 has been introduced across Wales.
“Gay men attending clinics for sexual health services will now be offered the vaccine.”
Rhian Edwards, director of research and support at Tenovus Cancer Care, said the Welsh Government hadn’t gone far enough.
She said: “We know that four in 10 cancers are preventable and HPV cancers make up 5% of all cancers worldwide, so this is a very important step in the right direction.
“However it is vital that the Welsh Government make the HPV vaccination free for both boys and girls of school age so that they are protected against the virus before they become sexually active.
“We encourage parents to consider vaccinating their sons at the same time as girls receive the vaccination in school, although at present they would need to pay for this privately.
“This reinforces the inequalities that already exist between the most affluent and most deprived communities in Wales and must be addressed.”