Intended for healthcare professionals


HPV vaccination

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 29 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4783
  1. Margaret Stanley, professor 1,
  2. Colm O’Mahony, consultant in sexual health and HIV2,
  3. Simon Barton, clinical director HIV/genitourinary medicine and dermatology3
  1. 1Department of Pathology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  2. 2Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust, Chester, UK
  3. 3Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: S Barton simon.barton{at}

What about the boys?

A year ago an editorial in The BMJ highlighted the limitations of HPV vaccination in the UK1 and called for decisive action to maximise the public health benefits by thinking about vaccinating boys and some men. Similarly, a recent review by Stanley concluded, after consideration of cost effectiveness, that “failure to implement male vaccination looks like a missed public health opportunity.”2 We therefore share the disappointment expressed by the Royal College of Surgeons’ cancer services committee about the lack of response to its concerns about the inequity of vaccinating only girls against HPV in the UK.3

To summarise, the UK vaccination programme initially opted for Cervarix, a bivalent vaccine against HPV types 16 and 18, which are associated with cervical cancer. The programme switched to the quadrivalent Gardasil (which also protects against genital warts caused by HPV types 6 and 11) in September 2012 but still vaccinates only 12-13 year old girls. Interestingly, new data show that at that age the …

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