Boys need HPV vaccine too, Cancer Focus tells Northern Ireland's MPs
Northern Ireland's MPs are being urged to support the extension of the HPV vaccine to teenage boys.
Currently only girls aged 12-13 are vaccinated against Human papilloma virus - a very common sexually transmitted infection that can cause a range of cancers (cervical, vaginal, vulval, penile, anal, and oral) as well as genital warts.
Thursday marks World Cancer Day and the charity Cancer Focus Northern Ireland has appealed to MPs to support an Early Day Motion at Westminster, calling for adolescent boys to be given the vaccination.
The charity is also asking the Health Department at Stormont to introduce the measure.
The primary sponsor of the Motion is South Antrim MP Danny Kinahan and six other local MPs have already supported the call.
Gerry McElwee, Head of Cancer Prevention at Cancer Focus NI, said: "Extending the HPV vaccination to include adolescent boys is the optimal way to reduce preventable HPV related cancers.
"With every year that passes, 12,000 more boys in Northern Ireland are left unprotected against HPV-related diseases. That is unacceptable."
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation is considering whether to extend the national vaccination programme to all adolescent boys, but Cancer Focus NI says it will not report until 2017 at the earliest. Implementation would be unlikely to happen until 2020, which the charity said would leave another 60,000 boys in Northern Ireland unprotected.
Mr McElwee said momentum on the issue was growing.
North Belfast MLA Paula Bradley has hosted a roundtable meeting on HPV at Stormont and the Assembly’s All Party Group on Cancer has discussed the issue.