Boys in Republic to get HPV vaccine

Boys in the Republic are to be offered the HPV vaccine which protects against a range of cancers including mouth cancer
Seanin Graham

BOYS in the Republic are to be included in a vaccination scheme designed to prevent cancer.

The human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine is already offered to teenage girls in their first year of secondary school and protects against cervical cancer.

Last month, the British government announced it was to follow the lead of Scotland and Wales and extend the programme to boys - with Northern Ireland now the only region failing to offer the jab to boys.

The HPV virus is a common sexually transmitted infection that can cause a range of cancers in men also, including throat and mouth cancer.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said they planned roll out the scheme next year after the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) found there are "considerable health benefits".

"We believe it is the right thing to do, both to reduce incidents of cancer among women but also HPV infections in men which give rise to anal cancer and head and neck cancers which can be particularly nasty."

A leading charity in the north, Cancer Focus NI, has repeatedly has called for the introduction of the "life-saving" jab for boys.

It is offered free to schoolgirls on the NHS until their 18th birthday.

While the Department of Health night said 'preparatory work' is underway, it will require ministerial sign-off

Cancer Focus NI has joined with the British Dental Association to lobby for change after dentists reported an increase in male patients presenting with mouth cancers.

Gerry McElwee, head of cancer prevention at the charity said: "With every year that passes, 12,000 more boys in Northern Ireland are left unprotected against HPV-related diseases. That is unacceptable."

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