An HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccination programme for men who have sex with men (MSM) is now available in Scotland.
But it appears to fall short of the mass-vaccination of all boys from age 12, as proposed by a number of campaigners, instead opting for a voluntary visit to a sexual health or HIV clinic to receive the vaccination.
The vaccine is currently given to all girls around age 12/13 to protect against some forms of cervical cancer.
The vaccine will be offered to MSM up to and including the age of 45 attending sexual health or HIV clinics. MSM prisoners aged up to and including 45 years of age will also be eligible to receive the vaccine through prison health services.
Introducing such a programme follows a recommendation by the UK’s independent, expert panel on vaccination matters, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
HPV is the name for a group of viruses, which can lead to genital warts and some forms of cancer. Vaccination helps to provide the best protection against high risk HPV types which can cause cancer.
A petition was first put before the Scottish Parliament in 2013 calling for protection from HPV to be extended to boys and was supported by Stonewall, Gay Mens Health, University of Edinburgh, Health Protection Scotland and others.
Public Health Minister Aileen Campbell said:
“I am delighted to announce the introduction of a HPV vaccination programme for MSM in Scotland from today.
“Its introduction is based on the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation. The JCVI recognises that MSM are a group at high risk of HPV infection and associated disease who receive little indirect health benefit from the existing, highly successful, HPV vaccination programme for girls.
“Introducing a HPV vaccination programme for MSM will help to provide protection against HPV infection which can cause genital warts and HPV related cancers.”