Netherlands to cover vaccinating boys against HPV virus

From 2021 boys in the Netherlands will also be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus virus (HPV), State Secretary Paul Blokhuis of Public Health announced on Friday. Currently only girls are vaccinated against this virus, which can cause cervical cancer.

Blokhuis is following the advice of the Health Council to add the HPV vaccine to the National Vaccination Program for all children, he said in a statement published by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. The age at which the HPV vaccination is given is also decreasing from 13 years to 9 years on recommendation from the advisory panel.

“By offering boys the HPV vaccine, we kill two birds with one stone," Blokhuis said. "Boys are then protected against the virus and are therefore less likely to suffer from terrible diseases such as throat cancer. Moreover, both boys and girls are even better protected by group protection,”

Every year around 700 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the Netherlands. About 200 of them die of the disease. While the HPV virus is often associated with cervical cancer, it can also cause mouth, throat, anus and penile cancer. According to AD, which first broke the story, about 500 men per year are diagosed with cancer because of the virus.

The human papillomavirus virus is a sexually transmitted infection whose spread may be reduced, but not eliminated, with barrier-type forms of safe sex including condoms. "Most infections from HPV will pass automatically," writes health agency RIVM about the virus. "But sometimes that is not the case. When you are infected with a high-risk variant of the virus cancer can develop. Some low-risk variants of HPV cause genital warts."