Vaccination against human papillomavirus
A programme to vaccinate all girls in the UK against this cause of cervical cancer is not without controversy, reports Lucy Dennison
In September the United Kingdom launched a national programme of vaccination against human papillomavirus. All 12 and 13 year old girls are being offered the vaccination through their schools in the hope that it will reduce the incidence of cervical cancers caused by the virus. The aim is to protect girls before they become sexually active. A two year catch-up initiative is planned for all girls aged up to but not including 18 next autumn. The vaccination is a course of three injections in six months. Long term monitoring is needed to establish the duration of protection and the need for booster vaccination.
There is no plan to vaccinate boys, but this is the subject of much debate. There is little available evidence on vaccinating boys. Although it would provide herd immunity, computer modelling shows that this approach would not be cost effective.
Papillomavirus is a common sexually transmitted infection,