HPV vac­cine to be rolled out to teen boys

■ Males ac­count for one in four HPV-re­lated can­cers di­ag­nosed

Irish Examiner - - News - Eve­lyn Ring

Boys and girls will be given an equal op­por­tu­nity to be pro­tected from HPV-caused c a n c e r s f ro m S e p t e m b e r next year.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Chil­dren’s Rights Al­liance, Tanya Ward, said it is crit­i­cal that plan­ning for the roll-out of the vac­cine to boys gets un­der­way im­me­di­ately.

The Chil­dren’s Rights Al­liance is part of the HPV Vac­ci­na­tion Al­liance that com­prises of 40 or­gan­i­sa­tions in­clud­ing lead­ing health, child wel­fare and so­cial jus­tice groups.

Health Minister Si­mon Harris an­nounced yesterday that the life-sav­ing vac­cine will be ex­tended to boys in the next school year.

The Health In­for­ma­tion a n d Q u a l i t y A ut h o r i t y (Hiqa) has ad­vised the minister to change to a more ef­fec­tive HPV vac­cine and ex­tend the vac­cine to boys.

Hiqa’s di­rec­tor of health tech­nol­ogy as­sess­ment and deputy chief ex­ec­u­tive, Máirín Ryan, said HPV-re­lated dis­ease is “com­mon.”

There are about 540 cases of HPV-re­lated can­cers di­ag­nosed in men and women ev­ery year, with one out of four in men.

Can­cers caused by the hu­man papil­lo­mavirus, the most com­mon vi­ral in­fec­tion of the re­pro­duc­tive tract, oc­cur in the cervix, anus, pe­nis, neck, and throat.

HPV in­fec­tion is also re­spon­si­ble for gen­i­tal warts in men and women, with 90% of these caused by the types of HPV the vac­cine pro­tects against.

HPV vac­ci­na­tion is a form of pri­mary preven­tion to re­duce HPV-re­lated dis­ease, in­clud­ing cer­vi­cal cancer. Cer­vi­cal screen­ing is a form of sec­ondary preven­tion.

Dr Ryan said girls cur­rently re­ceive a vac­cine that pro­tects against four strains of HPV and those strains are as­so­ci­ated with 70% of cer­vi­cal cancer cases.

The newer vac­cine rec­om­mended pro­tects against five ad­di­tional strains of the HPV.

Dr Ryan said there are no in­di­ca­tions of se­ri­ous side­ef­fects as­so­ci­ated with HPV vac­cine.

Hiqa con­ducted a re­view of data from more than 70,000 trial par­tic­i­pants and more than 20m in­di­vid­u­als in ob­ser­va­tional stud­ies.

It did not iden­tify an in­creased rate of se­ri­ous ad­verse events in those who re­ceived the vac­cine com­pared to those given place­bos.

Dr Ryan said the up­take of the HPV vac­cine in 2014 and 2015 was 87% and two years later it had fallen to 51% and that was at­trib­uted to safety con­cerns fol­low­ing high-pro­file neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity.

T h e r e wa s a p a r t i a l r e cov­ery last year when the up­take of the vac­cine in­creased to 65%.

Dr Ryan said it is im­porta n t t h at t h e re i s “s o l i d , ev­i­dence-based” in­for­ma­tion on the sci­en­tific data about the safety of the vac­cine.

Hiqa’s health tech­nol­ogy as­sess­ment found that the cost of switch­ing to the more ef­fec­tive vac­cine for girls will be an ad­di­tional €870,000 over five years.

The bud­get im­pact of pro­vid­ing the same vac­cine to both boys and girls will be an ad­di­tional €11.7m over five years.

The Royal Col­lege of Physi­cians in Ire­land wel­comed the ex­ten­sion of the HPV vac­cine to boys.

Pres­i­dent of the RCPI and con­sul­tant in in­fec­tious dis­eases, Prof Mary Hor­gan, said there is lit­tle aware­ness of the risk to men from HPV in­fec­tions.

“There is an ap­prox­i­mate 20% in­crease in oropha­ryn­geal [throat] can­cers,” said Prof Hor­gan. “Nearly 50% of this rise in oropha­ryn­geal dis­ease is di­rectly re­lated to HPV, with al­most 80% of those oc­cur­ring in men, yet there is lit­tle aware­ness of the risks to men.”

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