What is HPV?
HPV is a virus with multiple strains. Gardasil, the most popular vaccine, protects against its four most significant strains. HPV is one of the most common viruses transmitted between people who have more than one sexual partner. It is the cause of 90% of genital warts cases and a leading cause of cervical cancer and cancers of the mouth, throat, anus and penis. In fact, HPV infections cause 5% of all cancers worldwide, and that rate is increasing. Many carriers won’t have any symptoms, but they can still transmit the virus.
Why do boys need the jab?
Vaccines work through “herd immunity”. This is a general decline in the incidence of HPV throughout the community thanks to its inability to spread among vaccinated people. Vaccinated girls are protected against cervical cancer, but they represent only half the population. Vaccinating boys ensures that everyone will be protected against HPV in future.
A study done by the Kirby Institute at the University of New South Wales has shown that in 2012 the incidence of genital warts had decreased by up to 90% among young sexually active people since HPV vaccination was introduced in 2007.
“It’s a success story you rarely see in medicine,” says Dr Hammad Ali of the Kirby Institute.