HPV vaccine to be offered to men who have sex with men

It will help to prevent infections, which can cause cancers and genital warts

HPV vaccine to be offered to men who have sex with men

File photo | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Deaprtment of Health has announced the HPV vaccination is to be made available to men who have sex with men through public STI services.

It will be offered to men aged between 16 and 26 years from January 2017

The vaccine will help to prevent HPV infection, which can cause HPV-associated cancers and genital warts.

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is currently given to girls, to protect them from developing cervical cancer when they are adults.

Dr Fiona Lyons, clinical lead for sexual health with the HSE, said: "It is important that MSM have access to the HPV vaccine because they do not benefit from the herd immunity conferred through vaccinating adolescent girls.

"The HPV vaccination has been made available to men and women living with HIV under 26 years of age since October through HSE HIV services".

The announcement was made during the first HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme conference.

A main area of focus for the HSE and partners during 2016 has been how to address the increasing rates of sexually transmitted infections and HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM).

'Success in identifying new cases of HIV'

Speaking at the event, Minister for Health Promotion, Marcella Corcoran Kennedy said: "The increases in the sexually transmitted infections and HIV, particularly among men who have sex with men, is cause for concern and we know that late diagnosis of HIV remains a problem.

" At the launch of the strategy last year, my department provided funding to pilot a peer led, point of care HIV testing initiative in pubs and clubs.

"This pilot has had considerable success in identifying new cases of HIV.

"As we all know, earlier diagnosis of HIV allows for timely initiation of treatment which confers significant benefits to the individual living with HIV and reduces transmission within the population.

"The HSE is currently reviewing how this method of testing might be further rolled out in 2017".

Dr Stephanie O'Keeffe, national director for health and well-being with the HSE, added: "The HSE has made significant progress this year on implementing the strategy with the aim of reducing STIs and crisis pregnancy and improving access to sexual health information, education and services."

The Department of Health says that between 2014 and 2015, notifications of syphilis rose by 50% and HIV by 30% among MSM.

More than half of all HIV diagnoses and four out of five of syphilis notifications in Ireland are now occurring in MSM.

The increase in HIV can be partly explained by a change in the notification procedures for HIV in 2015.

So far in 2016, notifications of gonorrhoea among men have also risen by 60%.