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Making the case for global universal access to gender-neutral HPV vaccination

We are thrilled to announce a new partnership between NOMAN is an Island: Race to End HPV Campaign and Global Action on Men’s Health, two organisations dedicated to promoting health and well-being on a global scale. Together, we are embarking on a mission to ensure global universal access to gender-neutral HPV vaccination, a vital step towards a healthier future for all.

Why is this partnership crucial? HPV-related diseases affect millions worldwide, irrespective of gender. HPV can cause a range of cancers - cervical, anal, penile, vaginal, vulval, head and neck - as well as genital warts and recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP). Yet gender-neutral HPV vaccination, despite now being a ‘flagship’ cancer prevention policy in the European Union (as detailed in Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, 2021), is still only the gold standard of protection in a minority of HPV vaccination programmes. In most countries with an HPV vaccination programme, only girls are vaccinated. Gender-neutral vaccination remains a controversial policy, especially for lower-income countries with very high rates of cervical cancer, and is not yet fully recommended by the World Health Organisation or supported by GAVI.

By focusing only on the vaccination of girls to prevent cervical cancer, girls-only programmes fail to protect males sufficiently from the cancers caused by HPV. They also fail to protect unvaccinated women from infection by men, a particular problem in countries with low vaccination rates in girls. Girls-only programmes also mean that they unfairly shoulder the responsibility for prevention. With vaccine supply increasing, single-dose programmes changing cost-effectiveness calculations and new evidence showing that 21% of males have a high-risk (cancer-causing) HPV infection (Buni L. et al, 2023), it is time to make the case for gender-neutral vaccination on a global basis.

By advocating gender-neutral HPV vaccination, we are not only safeguarding the health of current generations, male and female, but also paving the way for a future where HPV-related cancers and diseases are relics of the past.

Working in collaboration, GAMH and NOMAN’s partnership will entail:

  • Developing an evidence-based case for gender-neutral HPV vaccination globally.

  • Identifying the key stakeholders for partnership and advocacy in each WHO region with a focus on those regions with fewest countries offering gender-neutral vaccinations.

  • Building an international alliance for action on gender-neutral HPV vaccination.

Peter Baker, Director of Global Action on Men’s Health, said:

“Global Action on Men’s Health is delighted to be working with NOMAN is an Island to make the case for gender-neutral HPV vaccination worldwide. This is an essential cancer-prevention step for men as well as women and will help to reduce the currently high rates of cancer in men worldwide. HPV vaccination is a simple, safe and essential for everyone.”

David Winterflood, Director of NOMAN is an Island: Race to End HPV Campaign:

"The time is now for gender-neutral HPV vaccination to become the global gold standard for the prevention of HPV cancers. This partnership with Global Action on Men's Health will help us make the case to global stakeholders that gender-neutral HPV vaccination isn't just a possibility, but a global imperative if we are to protect children, regardless of their gender, against preventable cancers."


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