Ireland gives HPV vaccine to gay men who are unprotected

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MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 21: A bottle of the Human Papillomavirus vaccination is seen at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine on September 21, 2011 in Miami, Florida. The vaccine for human papillomavirus, or HPV, is given to prevent a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cancer. Recently the issue of the vaccination came up during the Republican race for president when Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) called the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer "dangerous" and said that it may cause mental retardation, but expert opinion in the medical field contradicts her claim. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, also a presidential contender, has taken heat from some within his party for presiding over a vaccination program in his home state. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A vaccination programme began in 2010 among school-age girls in the Republic of Ireland to tackle the human papilloma virus, which spreads through genital or oral contact and can cause a number of cancers. The vaccine was offered to girls only because men who have sex with women would logically also be protected from transmission through ‘herd immunity’. However, advocates complained that relying on a ‘herd immunity’ plan left gay men vulnerable. As gay men have sex with eachother and not exclusively with women, they are effectively left without any protection from HPV spreads. The Irish government confirmed this week that it would begin offering HPV vaccines to men who have sex with men. Fiona Lyons, Clinical Lead in Sexual Health at Ireland’s Health Service Executive, announced at a sexual health conference this weekend that the HPV vaccine will be made available to men who have sex with men and to people living with HIV.

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