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BADN responds to HPV vaccination decision

The British Association of Dental Nurses, the UK’s professional association for dental nurses, joined the Faculty of General Dental Practice (UK) and other prominent dental associations in condemning the decision of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation not to vaccinate boys against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

Girls aged 12-13 have been vaccinated against HPV on the NHS since 2008, and boys are vaccinated in eleven other countries; but the JCVI’s recent interim statement suggests that boys in the UK will not receive the same protection, despite the fact that HPV causes 5% of all cancers.  2,000 men a year in the UK, almost half of whom will die from the condition within five years, are diagnosed with an HPV-related cancer.  The statement recognizes that “HPV vaccine in boys ……would provide those vaccinated with direct protection against HPV infection and associated disease” but rejects vaccination of boys on the grounds that it would not be “a cost effective use of health service resources in the UK setting”.  The JCVI decision was made despite the fact that a recent survey of FGDP(UK), BDA and BMA members showed that 97% of dentists and 94% of GPs backed vaccination of boys.

HPV Action, of which BADN is a member, disputes the cost-effective rationale, estimating that vaccinating boys would cost no more than £22m a year, and that existing secondary care costs of treating HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer alone are likely to exceed £21m.  Peter Baker, HPV Action Campaign Director, said “It is astonishing that the Government’s vaccination advisory committee has ignored advice from patient organisations, doctors treating men with HPV-related cancers, public health experts and those whose lives have been devastated by HPV.  The interim decision not to vaccinate boys is about saving money not public health or equity. HPV Action will continue to make the case for a national vaccination programme that protects men and women equally and will be calling on ministers to make the right decision if the JCVI continues along its current path . There may also be grounds for a legal challenge on the grounds that a  decision to leave boys and men at risk breaches equality law.”

BADN President Jane Dalgarno said “BADN supports the HPV Action campaign and calls upon its members to lobby their MPs to make them aware of the seriousness of this matter.”