A national human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme for men who have sex with men (MSM) who are aged 45 years or younger is being introduced in England from April, the government has announced.
The vaccine will be offered to eligible men attending sexual health and HIV clinics in England as part of a rolling programme managed by Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England.
The decision follows the success of the first year of a PHE pilot run at 42 specialist sexual health services clinics from June 2016.
Some 45.5% of men attending particpating clinics were given a first dose of the vaccine, and just 3.4% of the men who were eligible and offered the vaccine declined it, according to the pilot evaluation report.
Michael Edelstein, PHE consultant epidemiologist, said: “Our evidence shows that MSM are welcoming an HPV vaccination programme, and it can be delivered successfully through sexual health services.
“MSM are a group who receive little indirect protection from the adolescent girls’ [HPV] vaccination programme. We expect the new programme to reduce the number of cancers that are directly caused by HPV.”
The launch of a national programme reflects advice from the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation in November 2015 that a targeted HPV vaccination programme should be introduced in England for MSM aged up to 45 years who attend sexual health clinics. Its recommendation followed increasing evidence of the association between HPV infection and non-cervical cancers for MSM.
Girls aged 11–13 years in England have been vaccinated against the HPV virus since 2008 as part of a national scheme.