Boys in Ireland should get HPV vaccine too, says healthcare body
Boys could soon be in line to receive free HPV vaccines from the state.
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) is considering whether the vaccine, given to girls to prevent cervical cancer, should also be administered to boys in school.
The vaccine is available for free to girls in Ireland aged 12 and 13 in their first year of secondary school.
Human Papillomavirus is the most common cause of cervical cancer in women but can also cause penile, anal and oropharyngeal cancers in men.
Both girls and boys in countries including Austria, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US are offered HPV vaccines by the state. England will soon offer it too, reports Breaking News.
The Department of Health asked HIQA to look into whether it should offer the vaccine to Irish boys at the same age as girls.
Extending the scheme would cost an estimated €2 million.
In a draft report, HIQA has concluded that offering the vaccine to both sexes would improve patient outcomes and reduce deaths.
The move to vaccinate boys with HPV is also being backed by the Irish Cancer Society.
"Each year in Ireland at least 420 men and women are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV," said the organisation's CEO Averil Power.
"Only boys whose families can afford to and choose to pay as much as €300 for the vaccine currently receive it through their GP, leaving many more unprotected. This is clearly an injustice."
HIQA has now begun a national public consultation on the issue. Members of the public can make submissions to HIQA until 7 September