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Medical body fights to extend HPV vaccination for gay men

Medical body fights to extend HPV vaccination for gay men

A group of British medical professionals are calling for the vaccination of a cancer-causing STD to extend to gay men.

Sexually active gay men are the only high-risk group that is not being protected from HPV in the UK, a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to genital warts as well as cervical, anal and other cancers, The Guardian reports.

HPV vaccinations are currently only given by the NHS to teenage women but doctors say this means young straight men are also being indirectly protected, a concept known as ‘herd immunity’.

Unless gay men are included in the vaccination program, doctors from the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) say deaths from preventable diseases will increase.

Dr David Asboe told the paper: ‘We recognise there’s a burden of disease, particularly for gay men, that is not being met and we recognise that there’s an effective intervention.’

According to Asboe vaccinating gay men under the age of 26 can drastically decrease the possibility of anal cancer, a disease for which no screening exists.

BASHH wants the vaccine to be given for free to gay men who visit sexual health clinics, in a similar way that they have been protected against hepatitis B.

Campaigners have said any financial burden on the NHS will be offset in the next few years by a decline in calls for cancer treatment.

Guy Slade of the Terrence Higgins Trust said the shortfall of HPV vaccination treatment is discrimination.

He said: ‘Gay men already experience poor sexual health as a group and if action is not taken we’re going to see an ever widening health inequality emerge around HPV, anal cancer and warts.

‘I don’t think there is another area of health policy where men are so clearly losing out.’