The U.K. government has announced it'll expand its HPV vaccine offering to English boys ages 12-13.
England already provides the HPV vaccination, which protects against the human papillomavirus, to girls in the same age group. According to Public Health England, the girls' inoculation program has been so successful, it's reduced the prevalence of certain cancer-causing HPV strains by more than 80 percent. The decision to offer the vaccine to boys brings England up to speed with Scotland and Wales.
HPV is a group of viruses transmitted through sexual contact. In many cases, the human body rids itself of the virus. But in others, it can develop into potentially deadly forms of cancer, specifically cervical cancer in girls and women.
In the U.S., HPV vaccination mandates are decided by state legislatures, even though health policy panels have recommended the routine vaccination of boys and girls between 11 and 12. Currently, Virginia and the District of Columbia have passed legislation requiring female adolescents to start the HPV vaccine before school enrollment, while Rhode Island's immunization mandate covers both boys and girls.
Thousands of boys in England are expected to receive the HPV vaccine each year via the U.K.'s program.