Canada: British Columbia to fund HPV vaccine for boys & gay men under 26

After years of requests from gay health advocates, BC’s Ministry of Health announced that it will offer free HPV vaccines for boys and young men who have sex with men, beginning this September.

“The human papillomavirus virus is the most common sexually transmitted infection,” BC Health Minister Terry Lake said. “Our vaccination program will help protect all young British Columbians from cancers and other diseases caused by HPV infection.” The vaccine is currently offered to all girls in Grade 6 as part of the province’s routine school-age immunization schedule. 

“We know if you get above 60% of the women vaccinated you get a herd immunity effect in which heterosexual men are protected as well,” says health officer Perry Kendall. “But we are not offering protection to men who have sex with men.”

Infectious disease expert Joel Palefsky says the vaccine may also help prevent oral cancer in men. “Many people in our field believe universal vaccination is warranted even if a high percentage of girls are vaccinated,” he explains. “They will get prevention for most anal cancers and most genital warts as well as the likely but as of yet unproven prevention of oral cancer.” Read More