Over 60% of Irish people don’t realise that men and women are at equal risk of HPV infection 5 months ago

Over 60% of Irish people don’t realise that men and women are at equal risk of HPV infection

The HSE offers HPV vaccination to all girls in their first year of second level schooling. 

New research has revealed a distinct lack of awareness amongst Irish people that men, as well as women, are at risk of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection.

HPV is a sexually-transmitted virus so common that almost all sexually active men and women will get at some point in their lifetime. It causes nearly 99% of cases of cervical cancer.

Usually, the infection clears up by itself, but if not it can manifest itself as certain HPV-related cancers in both men and women, including anal cancer and cervical cancer.

Each year in Ireland, up to 100 women and 30 men die from cancers caused by HPV.

According to the HSE, 63% of Irish people don’t realise that males and females are at equal risk of infection, while 89% of men in Ireland don’t realise that they’re likely to get a HPV infection at some stage in their lives.

The research – which was carried out on a sample population of 1,000 adults in Ireland and commissioned by MSD Ireland – aims to increase awareness of HPV infections, which can cause certain cancers, while also encouraging the uptake of the free HPV vaccine among those eligible through the National Immunisation Programme.

In Ireland, the National HPV Immunisation Programme currently offers vaccination to all girls in first year of secondary school.

The vaccine is also available through STI services to MSM (men who have sex with men) aged under 26 years of age and through HIV clinics to HIV positive men and women under 26 years of age.

The Irish Cancer Society, Marie Keating Foundation and Cerviva have teamed up to share awareness about the vaccine and urge parents to be aware how they can help to protect their children against some HPV-related cancers through the National HPV Immunisation Programme.

“HPV is responsible for a number of cancers in men and women, including anal cancer and cervical cancer," Professor Ray O’Sullivan, Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny.

"It is worrying to see such low levels of HPV awareness especially when it is possible to prevent certain types of HPV infection that could cause certain cancers. HPV infection is most common in people in their late teens and early 20s and we know that HPV infection rates are rising rapidly among women and men in high-income countries like Ireland.”

For more information on the National HPV Immunisation Programme, you can check out the HSE website here.