Health watchdog HIQA is to look into whether to extend the HPV vaccine scheme to boys.
Currently it's given to girls in secondary school before they become sexually active, as tests show it gives the best chance of preventing cervical cancer later in life.
HIQA Deputy Chief Dr Máirín Ryan explains that “HPV infection is the most commonly acquired sexually transmitted viral infection. In most cases it causes no symptoms and is cleared by the body’s immune system. However, persistent infection can lead to the development of cancer.”
HPV (or human papillomavirus to give it its full title) is associated with cancers that affect both men and women like anal, genital and throat cancer as well as genital warts. But it's also linked to penile cancer.
Now the Department of Health has asked HIQA to investigate its clinical effectiveness in boys as well as the cost of rolling out the programme.