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HPV Vaccine

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine of choice is Gardasil, which guards against cervical cancer and genital warts. It has caused something of a revolution in the medical world because it provides the first effective prevention against cervical cancer.

This HPV vaccine is available from Doctorcall's clinics in London and Manchester.

HPV vaccine is normally recommended for girls and young women between the ages of nine and twenty-six, and for boys from nine to fifteen. Our specialist GU Physicians can also prescribe it to other age groups where appropriate.

We can provide advice on the choice of HPV treatment; in addition to Gardasil, we also have Cervarix available where appropriate.

HPV vaccine is available on the NHS but only for girls and only within a very limited age group.

Unfortunately, HPV is both very infectious and very harmful. The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) causes genital warts and is linked to the slow development of cervical cancers and pre-cancers.

HPV is an extremely common infection that is transmitted sexually. Approximately 70% of infections are found in the 15 to 24 year old age group.

Cervical cancer is the second-most common cancer in women under thirty-five. Cervical smears to test for cancer are an effective screening programme if they are carried out frequently enough. In most countries apart from the UK, the recommended frequency of testing is once per year, and that is what we recommend in our clinics. However, it is believed that with HPV vaccination the risks of cervical cancer and the need for smear tests may be eradicated altogether.

Gardasil works by immunising against certain types of HPV. Types 16 and 18 are the cause of 70% of cervical cancers and types 6 and 11 cause 90% of unsightly genital warts. It is these four types against which Gardasil is active.

HPV vaccination is very important for young people who are not yet sexually active in order to prevent HPV infection. However, it is also recommended in older groups who may already have become infected because it is unlikely they will have been infected by all the four strains, so Gardasil still provides an important opportunity for prevention.

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For gay and bisexual men

The HPV vaccine is generally recommended as a cervical cancer preventative for young girls; however, gay and bisexual men can also benefit.

We feel that this vaccine should be available to men who have sex with other men to protect against AIN and anal cancers as well as unsightly external genital warts.

How can I get myself immunised?

Gardasil vaccination protects against infection (or reinfection) with 4 strains of HPV virus: 6, 11, 16, and 18. It is given as 3 doses. The 2nd vaccination is given 2 months after the initial dose, and the 3rd a further 3 months after this. (It is possible that booster doses may be required in the future but the timing of this is not yet clear.)

Why should I have the vaccine? Why am I at risk?

"HPV is estimated to cause around 80-95% of anal cancers and 30-50% of penile cancers. In the same way that cervical cells can be infected with HPV and undergo abnormal change to CIN (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia) and pre cancerous cells, the anal cells can undergo a change known as AIN (anal intraepithelial neoplasia) and ultimately develop into invasive anal cancers.

These anal cancers are becoming increasingly prevalent in men who have sex with men, particularly in those who have HIV infection."

- Ref: Parkin DM, Bray F Chapter 2: The burden of HPV related cancers. Vaccine 2006;24(supplement 3):11-25.

HPV has many subtypes, the most common of which are types 6, 11, 16 and 18.

Types 6 and 11 cause external genital warts which often require prolonged treatment using creams or freezing with liquid nitrogen.

Types 16 and 18 are responsible for the majority of the cell changes which can lead to cancers as described above.

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