The Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP(UK)) has welcomed the recommendation that the NHS vaccination programme for girls against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) be extended to boys.
Three years later than initially expected, and a year after publishing an interim statement opposing extension of the programme, the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has now issued a final recommendation that gender-neutral vaccination is in fact "highly likely" to be cost effective. The Scottish and Welsh Governments have since announced that they will roll out vaccination to boys.
HPV affects 80% of men at some point in their lives, causes 5% of all cancers and is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers. With each passing year, 400,000 more young men go unvaccinated, and 2,000 men a year in the UK are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer - of whom almost half will die from the condition within five years.
HPV Action, a campaign group of which the Faculty is a member, described the JCVI’s previous position as flawed and legally questionable. Following the JCVI’s reversal of its position, the final decisions on whether and when the vaccination will be rolled out to boys in England rest with the Department of Health and Social Care, and the Faculty, together with other national dental organisations, recently wrote to the Minister for Public Health to make the case for extending the programme.
Ian Mills, Dean of FGDP(UK), said:
"The JCVI’s U-turn is welcome news, as oral cancer is a serious and potentially devastating condition, and the more we can do to prevent it, the better. The whole dental team plays an important role in delivering advice on the prevention of oral cancer and diagnosing potentially malignant lesions early. The Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) is therefore delighted to see commitments to introduce the HPV vaccination for boys in Scotland and Wales, which may in turn reduce the numbers of individuals affected by this debilitating and life-threatening disease. We would urge Ministers to make the same commitment for boys in England, and call on all the UK’s governments to roll out the vaccination as soon as possible."