Discrimination against gay men overturned with new HPV vaccine programme for England

Graphic to overcome Facebook’s refusal to show an anal wart

Simon Collins, HIV i-Base

After many years of criticism for a discriminatory public health programme and a protracted pilot scheme, gay men in the UK are finally to start to benefit from access to the HPV vaccine. [1]

The announcement was made on 5 February 2018, noting that access would still only be available in phases, following successful results from the pilot programme. [2, 3]

Less than 4% of men eligible for the vaccine declined participation, although recorded first-dose uptake is so far only 45%.

Support from NHS clinics was very high for the programme, with reimbursement of only £10 per injection.

A previous criticism from the pilot programme is that no baseline data were collected on prevalence of HPV genotypes, and no efficacy data was collected on immune response post vaccination. [4]


This announcement is good news, however late, although no details were provided about the proposals to phase in access, other than this would start from April 2018.

Although the programme was welcomed by the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) the organisation also noted that “we ultimately believe that HPV vaccination should be made available to all adolescents regardless of gender, and across the entirety of the UK”. [5]

NHS Scotland launched a similar programme in 2017.


  1. Dept of Health and Social Care. HPV vaccination programme for men who have sex with men. (05 February 2018).
  2. Dept of Health and Social Care. HPV vaccination for men who have sex with men: year 1 pilot. (05 February 2018).
  3. Public Health England (PHE). Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination for Men who have sex with Men (MSM) 2016/17 pilot evaluation. (February 2018) (PDF)
  4. Collins S. AT LAST: Gay men and transgender people in England get vaccine to prevent genital warts and anal cancer – impressive pilot results. HTB, 27 February 2017.
  5. BASHH statement. BASHH welcomes decision to extend HPV vaccination programme for men who have sex with men in England. (06 February 2018).

Links to other websites are current at date of posting but not maintained.