Want to be vaccinated to protect your partner?
Vaccinating boys could help protect women from cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer kills three women every day in the UK. Almost all cases of the disease are caused by strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV). There is now a vaccine which could protect against three-quarters of these strains and which the government is considering making available on the NHS.
Research by Merck, the manufacturers of the vaccine Gardasil suggest that vaccinating boys as well as girls would increase the number of lives saved. Based on their own research, they estimate that more than 90% of HPV cases of the disease could be eliminated, instead of just over 75% if only girls were vaccinated.
Professor Margaret Stanley, of the University of Cambridge, told The Times that the results were exciting. 'They not only demonstrate how effective a national vaccination programme for females could be, but also demonstrate that by vaccinating males as well, prevention of over 90% of cervical cancer caused by the HPV types targeted by the vaccine could be achieved.'
Gardasil, which was developed by Merck and Sanofi Pasteur, is competing with another vaccine, Cervarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline, for this potentially lucrative market. Following a Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommendation on the vaccine, government will need to decide whether it can afford it. The cost is expected to be in the range £150 to £250 per person, says The Times.
The outcome model used by Merck assumes that 70% of 12-year-olds will be vaccinated before they become sexually active and exact costs depending on exactlky who is vaccinated. But even the most expensive programme â€” including girls and boys at 11, plus a catch-up in both sexes â€” had a cost per year of life saved (£23,000) that falls within the target used by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence of £30,000 when assessing whether a vaccine is worth the expense.
But as well as the costs what are the moral implications of vaccinating boys for a disease they will never have? Let us know what you think.
Page created on January 24th, 2007
Page updated on January 16th, 2010