Michelle O’Neill announces investment in HPV vaccination programme

Date published: 06 August 2016

Men who have sex with men (MSM) in the north of Ireland will be eligible to receive the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine.


The Health Minister made the announcement ahead of her visit to the Belfast Pride Festival today. Speaking at the festival, Michelle O’Neill said: “Today I am announcing an investment of over £100,000 into the HPV vaccination programme following the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). This will be a targeted vaccination programme for MSM aged up to 45 who attend GUM and HIV clinics, further details regarding the vaccination programme will be issued in due course.

“Investment in this programme will help to provide protection against HPV which can cause a range of cancers. My Department is now working closely with the Public Health Agency to ensure the HPV vaccine can be offered to eligible men attending GUM clinics in the near future.”

Human papilloma virus is the name for a group of viruses which can lead to some forms of cancer as well as genital warts. Vaccination provides the best protection against some forms of HPV which can cause cancer. 

Notes to editors: 

  1. HPV is the abbreviation for the human papilloma virus.
  2. There are over 100 types of HPV viruses, of which about 40 infect the genital tract.
  3. Persistent infection with high-risk HPV types such as types 16 and 18 can lead to cancer – most notably cancer of the anus, throat and penis.
  4. Types 16 and 18 also cause 70% of cervical cancers in women which is why all adolescent girls are already offered the HPV vaccine while in school year 9.
  5. Other types of HPV such as 6 and 11 cause genital warts.
  6. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is an independent expert advisory committee that provides impartial advice on matters relating to the provision of vaccination and immunisation services.
  7. In line with JCVI advice the HPV vaccine will be offered to MSM attending a GUM (Genitourinary Medicine) clinic.
  8. For most individuals three doses of the HPV vaccine will be required, ideally over a 12 month period.
  9. Media enquiries about this press release to DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0074, or out of hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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