Since Michael Douglas’ interview about the link between HPV and throat cancer, campaigners have been given a much needed publicity boost for their cause. Amongst them is Jamie Rae, of the Throat Cancer Foundation, who himself contracted HPV and as a result was diagnosed with throat cancer three years later. He is urging MSPs to back proposals to give boys – as well as girls – the vaccination, saying: “We face a global epidemic.”
HPV, the Human Papilloma Virus, is a leading cause of cervical cancer, but can result in a range of cancers in both sexes, including throat cancer. It is estimated that around 80% of adults will contact the virus before they reach middle age, and while most will fight it off, HPV is responsible for up to five per cent of all cancer cases.
Mr Rae calls the theory behind only vaccinating girl flawed and discriminatory, and a policy which “must be addressed as a matter of urgency”. The theory of ‘herd immunity’ is based on the assumption that eradication of the condition amongst women would eradicate it in men, but as Mr Rae continues: “By the very nature of herd immunity, if a person is outwith the herd they will not be protected. This means men who have sex with men are excluded and not protected from human papillomavirus cancers.”
There is also the problem of those born before vaccinations were implemented, and some countries having a very low vaccine uptake, meaning that great swathes of society could be at risk. In this highly mobile population, and different sexual orientations, Mr Rae deeply disagrees with the discrimination boys, and girls over a certain age, face with regards to not receiving the HPV vaccination.
Better2Know agrees that the more people who are protected, the better. If you are worried about your son, daughter, or indeed yourself, and would like to be vaccinated against HPV, Better2Know can provide this service at a time and place convenient to you.