FGDP(UK) has joined forces with the British Dental Association and the Faculty of Dental Surgery (RCS Eng), as well as the British Society for Dental Hygiene and Therapy, the British Association of Dental Therapists and the British Association of Dental Nurses, to urge the Minister for Public Health, Steve Brine MP, to extend the HPV vaccination programme for girls to boys.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which is expected to make a recommendation to Ministers in July, last year published an interim statement that it did not think extension of the programme to boys would be cost effective, and once again deferred a final recommendation, which had originally been expected in 2015.
The incidence of oral cancer is increasing each year, and Dr Mick Horton, Dean of FGDP(UK), has said that the fight against it is hanging on this decision.
HPV Action, a campaign group of which the Faculty is a member, described the JCVI’s position as flawed and legally questionable, and the group’s founding organisation, the Throat Cancer Foundation, is crowdfunding for a legal challenge under the Equality Act should the decision be made not to extend the programme, or further deferred.
The three national dental organisations have now written to Mr Brine to outline their concerns about the modelling used to inform the JCVI's position, highlighting equality considerations, and making the moral case that the vaccination should be offered to boys regardless.
Dr Horton added:
"Current policy is costing lives, and leaving 400,000 more boys needlessly unprotected with every passing year. We urge Ministers to listen to the dentists and other health professionals who see the devastation that HPV-related cancers wreak on patients and their families."
The full text of the letter is below: