HPV Vaccine for MSN (men who have sex with men)

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is available in Sunderland for men up to and including 45 years old to gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM).

The vaccine will help prevent HPV infection, which can cause genital warts and certain types of cancer. It’s especially important for those who are living with HIV, and those who have more than one sexual partner.

What is HPV?

HPV is a very common virus which usually has no symptoms. Nearly all sexually active people will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives.

Most often people do not realise that they are carrying the virus. For the majority of people, HPV clears up quickly.

Some HPV infections which persist, such as HPV types 16 and 18, can lead to cancers, for example HPV types 16 and 18 cause the majority of HPV associated cancers and increase the risk of developing HPV-related cancers later in life, such as:

  • some mouth and throat cancers (head and neck)
  • some cancers of the anus and genital areas
  • cervical cancer in women
  • Other types of HPV such as 6 and 11 cause genital warts.

How is HPV Spread?

HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the UK. HPV is spread mainly by skin to skin contact. Genital HPV infections are highly contagious, and usually associated with sexual contact. Nearly all sexually active people get infected with HPV at some point in their lives. The risk increases with the number of sexual partners you or your partners have.

Can HPV infection be prevented?

Condoms do not guarantee protection from infection. This is because HPV can be transmitted by skin contact with areas not covered by condoms.

The best way to protect yourself from HPV infection is to get vaccinated. The vaccines we offer to MSM are called Gardasil or Gardasil 9. Either vaccine can be given and both vaccines protect against the 4 HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18 that are responsible for causing cancers and genital warts. Gardasil 9 protects against additional types 31, 33, 45, 52, 58.

The vaccine is a course of 2 doses given at least 6 months apart. If you are HIV positive or immunocompromised you will require 3 doses of vaccine at 0, 1 and 4 to 6 months.

Ideally, vaccine should be given before you become sexually active, but the protection is still good even if you receive the vaccine later. To get the best protection, it is important you receive the full course of vaccination.

Why MSM should be vaccinated

The risk of anal cancer in MSM is higher than in heterosexual men. If you also have HIV, this risk is higher again. In addition, MSM are more likely to get genital warts. MSM attending a sexual health service or HIV clinics are known to have an increased risk of HPV infection and disease.

HPV vaccination is a very effective way to reduce your risk of genital warts immediately and your risk of developing HPV-associated cancer in the future.

Does the Vaccine Have Any Side Effects?

Like most injections, the side effects of the HPV vaccination are quite mild. Soreness, swelling and redness in the arm are common but wear off in a couple of days. More serious side effects are extremely rare.

The vaccine has passed the strict safety standards for use in the UK and has been shown to be a very safe vaccine. Millions of doses of vaccine have already been given to girls and boys in the UK and around the world. As with all vaccines, any reports of side effects are closely monitored and reviewed.

How do I get the HPV vaccine?

Please contact the Sunderland Sexual Health Service on (0191) 569 9966 for more information and to arrange a consultation.

More Information

Further information and frequently asked questions (FAQS) can be found here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/hpv-msm-faqs-public.pdf

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