The national human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme for men who have sex with men (MSM) was launched earlier this month. The purpose of the programme is to opportunistically offer HPV vaccine to MSM up to and including 45 years of age through Specialist Sexual Health Services (SSHS) and/or HIV clinics.
Public Health England (PHE) said that while the current HPV vaccination programme for girls is expected to induce herd protection, men who have sex with men will benefit less from this protection. “Offering the HPV vaccine to MSM in SSHS and HIV services will offer protection against HPV-related disease in this high-risk group,” it said.
In MSM with known immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, the recommendation is that HPV vaccine should be offered regardless of CD4 count, antiretroviral therapy use or viral load. Evidence suggests individuals with HIV infection are at increased risk of acquiring HPV and persistent infection, as well as frequent carriage of multiple HPV types and increased risk of HPV-related rapidly progressive malignancies.
PHE says there is no data to support giving fewer than three doses of HPV vaccine to HIV-infected individuals, therefore only a three-dose schedule should be offered to the individuals. The organisation cautions that the immune response to this vaccination and its effectiveness may be less than that observed among those who are not infected with HIV.
To support healthcare professionals, PHE has produced a slide set describing the current epidemiology of HPV, evidence-based information and guidance on the administration of the vaccine. It can be downloaded here.