Kingston University professor calls on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to introduce HPV vaccination for boys

Posted Friday 8 July 2016

A Kingston Business School expert has added his voice to calls urging the Government to act quickly and extend the national HPV vaccination programme to include adolescent boys.

Professor Giampiero Favato was a key member of a group of academics, clinicians and scientists with a special interest in the human papillomavirus (HPV) who recently delivered a letter to the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt. The letter, subsequently published in The Times newspaper, stressed that gender-neutral vaccinations had been shown to reduce the incidence of life-threatening cancers.

Research by Professor Favato has established that vaccinating males against the HPV virus makes financial sense, overturning the outcome of previous studies and policies. The  letter delivered to Mr Hunt stated: "It not only makes sense on a public-health level, but there is now economic evidence to indicate that vaccinating both girls and boys will be cost effective. Such a step would bring the United Kingdom in to line with Australia, Austria and other countries now recommending HPV vaccination for both sexes."

HPV is the name for a group of viruses that have an affect on the moist membranes of the body. There are a number of high-risk strains and some of these can cause cervical cancer - which more than eight women per day are diagnosed with in the UK (around 3,000 cases each year). According to Professor Favato, though, what is often not realised, is that HPV infections can also lead to cancer of the anus (1,100 new cases per year) or penis (500 new cases).

In 2010, Professor Favato joined a multidisciplinary research programme which aimed to assess the cost-effectiveness of a gender-neutral HPV vaccination programme. Working with colleagues in public health, he developed a sophisticated economic model detailing the cost-benefit of the HPV research programme.

Previous research by Professor Favato was presented to the Italian Agency for Drug Approval (AIFA). As a result, the organisation changed its vaccination policy for HPV, removing its previous restriction of vaccination to females only and approving vaccination also for males.

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