New HPV vaccine programme for gay men to be introduced in Wales

A new HPV vaccination programme for men who have sex with men (MSM) will be introduced in Wales, Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford announced today.

The decision comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which provides independent, expert advice to governments across the UK, recommended the introduction of such a targeted programme.

Since the introduction of the HPV vaccination programme – which protects against strains of the human papilloma virus linked to cervical cancer – for adolescent girls in 2008, evidence has emerged that HPV immunisation can provide protection against a wider range of cancers which may be more commonly seen in gay men.

The new programme will be targeted at men aged 16 to 45 who have sex with men and who attend specialist sexual health clinics. The JCVI has also recommended the vaccine is offered to other people who are considered to be at risk, including MSM who are over 45, sex workers and HIV-positive men and women on a case-by-case basis.

The JCVI is still considering whether it would be beneficial to offer the HPV vaccine to all adolescent boys. A recommendation is expected in early 2017.

In his capacity as Health and Social Services Minister, Mark said:

“Men who have sex with men are a group who receive little indirect protection from the highly-successful HPV vaccination programme for adolescent girls.

“I’m pleased to announce that I have approved the introduction of a new targeted HPV vaccination programme for men who have sex with men up to the age of 45.

“We will now give careful consideration about how this programme will be delivered and will make a further announcement in due course.”