The British Dental Association (BDA), as a member of the HPV Alliance, is urging the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to consider blanket immunisation against human papillomavirus (HPV).
Dental experts have highlighted that HPV is emerging as the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer, especially among young people, and that rates are rising steeply overall. It is linked to 5 per cent of all cancers worldwide, including some that affect only men.
The JCVI's latest report has recommended offering vaccination at sexual health clinics to men who have sex with men, between the ages of 16 and 40. All girls between the age of 12 and 13 are currently offered the vaccine to reduce their risk of cervical cancer – which is largely caused by HPV.
The BDA has said that targeting HPV vaccination within a single population is simply not acceptable.
Dr Graham Stokes, Chair of the BDA Health and Science Committee, said:
We welcome this indication that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is recognising the need to extend vaccination beyond girls, but they need to go further.
By time men reach a sexual health clinic it’s often too late to protect them from HPV. The Committee’s interim decision may look ‘cost effective’ on paper but it will leave too many of our boys and young men at risk.
We are seeing oropharyngeal cancer on the rise, and offering men effective protection as an optional extra is not acceptable. Healthcare professionals are seeing 1 in 20 cancer cases linked to this virus, and blanket coverage for both sexes is an appropriate and proportionate response.