Doctor urges parents to get sons vaccinated for HPV

QUEENSLAND Health is urging parents to ensure their adolescent boys to receive the full course of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations before they complete Year 10.

Acting Senior Director Communicable Diseases Unit Dr Stephen Lambert said the uptake of dose one of the vaccines for males had been less than originally planned with preliminary data showing that about 62 per cent of Year 10 males having been vaccinated in the school based vaccination program.

"This is a significant drop compared to the year eight cohort in which early data show that about 72 per cent of male students had received their vaccinations in the school program," Dr Lambert said.

"To receive the full course of vaccinations at no cost, boys must receive all three doses before the end of year 11.

"If your son, grandson or nephew hasn't started their course of three doses, it's not too late and they haven't missed out."

Dr Lambert said there would still be time to get the vaccine.

"Males in Year 10 will be able to get the vaccine in a school based catch-up program this year and in 2014," he said.

"They can also still be vaccinated through their GP."

Dr Lambert said HPV was a very common virus that affected both females and males.

"There are 40 different types of HPV which can affect different parts of the body.

"The virus can infect the genital area and can cause genital warts, cervical, vulval, vaginal, penile and anal cancers, and is also associated with some cancers of the mouth and throat."

Dr Lambert said vaccinating males during early adolescence was most effective.

"Young adolescence is generally before most boys have become sexually active which means that vaccination will provide protection for young men before they are exposed to HPV," he said.

"The vaccine helps protect males against developing a range of HPV related cancers and diseases, including protection for women against cervical cancer."

HPV is so common that more than 80 per cent of people who are sexually active will have a genital HPV infection at some time in their lives.

There is currently no treatment for HPV and in most people; the virus is cleared naturally in one to two years.

Treatments are only available for the abnormalities caused by the infection such as genital warts and cancers caused by HPV.

The HPV school-based vaccination program in Queensland is a joint initiative funded by the Federal and State Governments.

Topics:  health hpv vaccinations

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