Leading oral health charity, the British Dental Health Foundation, has welcomed the Government’s decision to switch the HPV vaccination from Cervarix to Gardasil from next year. The Foundation believes the new vaccine will bring wider health benefits, including the prevention of genital warts.
According to the Health Protection Agency, 75,000 people were diagnosed with genital warts in 20101. The vaccination programme already helps to save around 400 deaths each year from cervical cancer.
HPV has been increasingly linked to the rise in mouth cancer cases in recent years, as well as genital warts, neck, penile and anal cancers. Last week, the Foundation called for the vaccination programme to be extended to boys following the recommendation of experts in the USA. Members of the ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)’ now believe the cost-benefit analysis and health benefits of the vaccination justify its population-wide extension to boys and young men2.
HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but awareness is significantly lower than other common STIs. Last year a total of 482,696 new STI cases were reported in the UK3. It is thought that at least 50 per cent of sexually active men and women get HPV at some point in their lives4.
In the USA alone, it is estimated that around 20 million people are infected with HPV each year and around 7,000 HPV associated cancers affecting men. Some of the latest research in the USA suggests that vaccinating young men prevents 90 per cent of genital warts. Other evidence indicates it is 75 per cent effective in preventing anal cancers amongst gay men.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, said: “The evidence suggests that Gardasil will not only help prevent cervical cancer, but also work against other strains of the HPV virus including genital warts which affects 75,000 people in the UK.
“The change in vaccine also strengthens the benefits it can bring to young men who are currently left unprotected against this cancer-causing virus. We hope the switch to Gardasil is the first step to extending the population-wide vaccination programme to boys as soon as possible.”
Throughout November, leading oral health charity the British Dental Health Foundation is running Mouth Cancer Action Month, to raise awareness of the risks and symptoms of mouth cancer. For more information visit: www.mouthcancer.org.