BDA Scotland says Catch-up programme for HPV cannot be ‘optional extra’
The British Dental Association Scotland has welcomed news that 12-13 year-old boys in Scotland will start receiving the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine during the next school year, as part of a universal programme reaching children of both sexes.
It has however warned that failure to offer a catch-up programme to older boys still in school will leave over 140,000 exposed to the virus. A catch-up programme provided a model when the vaccine was first rolled out to girls.
The BDA has been an active member of the HPV Action campaign coalition, and had pressed for an extension to boys given the surge in oral cancer rates fuelled by the virus. Scotland has seen a 37% increase in oral cancer deaths in the last decade. Incidence rates are among the highest in Europe.
BDA Scotland defeated plans from the Scottish Government to extend the intervals between dental appointments to 24 months, which could have jeopardised cancer detection. Dentists play a unique role in oral cancer detection, and are often the first to detect the tell-tale signs at a routine appointment.
David Cross, Vice-Chair of the BDA’s Scottish Council said: “From the next school year all 12- and 13-year-olds will get protection from HPV. It's fantastic news, but failure to extend coverage to older boys will leave 140,000 at risk from this cancer-causing virus.
“A catch-up programme isn’t an optional extra. Oral cancer now claims three times as many lives in Scotland as car accidents. Ministers just need to go the extra mile on prevention, and take the same approach that was offered when girls first received the vaccine.”