Throughout 2013, Year 7 boys throughout Australia will have access to the human papillomavirus (HPV) free of charge.
The school-based HPV vaccine program has been available to Year 7 girls since 2007, helping to protect them against developing infections that can lead to cancer.
According to Professor Ian Frazer AC, CEO and Director of Research at the Translational Research Institute (and creator of the vaccine), HPV is a very common virus.
“Many people catch it without ever knowing they’ve had it. There are actually many sorts of HPV and only a few of them can cause disease, but the ones that can cause disease quite frequently do and can cause cancer and other serious complications.”
The vaccine is given to 12-13 year olds because immune systems are healthy at this age and produce good antibody levels which means high levels of protection when given the vaccination. It is expected to be extended to 14-15 year olds by next year.
According to Professor Andrew Grullich of the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales, there are two main benefits to the vaccine for boys.
“There’s the personal benefit. It prevents or reduces the risk of genital warts by 90%, as well as reduces the risk of getting HPV related cancers. About 25% of all HPV related cancers occur in males, so vaccination of males is really important.”
Professor Grullich says this means that the boys being vaccinated will not transmit HPV virus to their partners, or get genital warts, cancer of the penis or anus and they will recuce their chances of getting cancer of the throat, head or neck.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for boys to have access to this vaccine and I urge parents to take advantage of it.”
The HPV vaccine will be available through schools who should provide a consent form for you to sign.
Further information is available here.