Inequality and the HPV vaccine
The human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine has resulted in an almost 90% reduction in the number of HPV infections in young women since 2010 (Mesher et al, 2018). Research has determined that the prevalence of HPV infections, which cause the majority of cervical cancers, fell by about 80% between 2010 and 2016 in women aged 16-18 years.
The provision of HPV vaccination for boys was secured at the end of July 2018 when the Government announced it would extend the use of the vaccine to boys aged 12-13 years (Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), 2018)—a vaccine that can prevent HPV-related cervical, vaginal, penile, anal and oral cancers as well as genital warts. Vaccination has been offered to girls aged between 11 and 13 in England since 2008. Public Health England also carried out a catch-up programme for those girls aged 13-18 who had missed the vaccination. However, the public health minister, Steve Brine, has confirmed that there will be no such catch-up programme for boys. This decision is unacceptable.
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