Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually-transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer, and nowadays all girls in Denmark are offered free vaccination against it when they reach the age of 12.
However, it also causes cancer of the membranous cavity of the alimentary canal leading to the larynx and oesophagus, as well as cancer of the tonsils and anus.
As a consequence, the Sundhedstyrelsen health authority has set up a one-year pilot scheme to offer free vaccinations to homosexual teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19.
A lot of interest
And the take-up rate has been gratifying. Since February this year when the project stated, 300 teenagers in the age group have been vaccinated, reports DR Nyheder.
The vaccination consists of three injections with a couple of months gap in between. In order to qualify for the scheme, the teenager has to have had the first injection by August 31 at the latest in order to have the final one by December 31 when the scheme ends.
“There has been a lot more interest than we expected,” said Andreas Gylling Æbelø, the head of the Aids Fund, which has been vaccinating the teenagers.
The vaccination has only been available for limited fixed times at four clinics round the country. “That 300 people so far have managed to visit us in just four cities during restricted opening hours is a really excellent result,” added Æbelø.
No to a homosexual register
The original plan was to offer the vaccination through GPs, but it was not possible to reach agreement on this because the PLO association of doctors were worried that somehow a register of homosexuals could be compiled using the data.
From next summer, the government plans to extend the free vaccination scheme to all boys when they reach the age of 12.
Ought to be continued
But the Aids Fund would like to go further and see older homosexual men and boys given the same offer.
Statistics reveal that men who have sex with men have a 30-40 times greater chance of developing anal cancer through an HPV infection than men who only have sex with women.
When it runs its course the pilot project will be evaluated, but the health authority says that at this time there is no funding for the scheme to continue.