HPV virus – vaccinate boys too, says dental charity

The British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) is calling on the government to include boys in a planned vaccination programme to guard against the sexually transmitted HPV virus.

It’s in response to a new large-scale study in the States of 46,000 mouth cancer cases.

It found that the number of deaths caused by the sexually transmitted HPV virus has increased by a third over the last 30 years and is now the highest it has ever been.

The DoH has already agreed to introduce the HPV vaccine for all 12 and 13-year-old girls from September 2008 to guard against cervical cancer in the future.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Foundation, said: ‘It is admirable that the government is taking such positive steps to reduce the number of cervical cancer cases for the women of the future but, with mouth cancer killing more people than cervical cancer and testicular cancer combined, it is clear that this little-known condition also needs to be addressed.

‘By expanding its HPV vaccination programme to include boys as well as girls, the government would be able to address the problem of rising HPV-related mouth cancer deaths in a simple, fair and effective manner.

‘With young people becoming progressively more sexually active this problem is not going to go away.

‘It needs to be addressed and sooner rather than later.’

Mouth cancer kills one person every five hours in the UK and affecting more men than women.

Using tobacco is the main risk factor for the condition, closely followed by drinking alcohol to excess.

‘People need to take steps to reduce their risk of developing the
condition; whether that be by cutting out smoking, by reducing their alcohol consumption or by taking a HPV test along with their partner,’ said Dr Carter.

‘With early detection increasing survival chances from one in two to nine out of ten, it is vital that people are aware of the symptoms of mouth cancer too.’

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