Vaccination against the human papillomavirus has ceased to be only a matter of girls in the Community of Madrid, Public Health has begun to expand its schedule to incorporate more risk groups. The novelty is that, for the first time, this expansion reaches a portion of the male population. As explained by sources of the Ministry of Health, since January, Madrid outpatients already offer this service to men who manifest having sex with men, provided they are under 26 years.

The first vaccination campaign was carried out in 2008 in a coordinated manner throughout the country, and where that year, 30,000 Madrilenians born in 1994 received the first free injections of antigens against this virus, responsible, among other symptoms, for genital warts and of the vast majority of cases of cervical cancer. Since then, 83% of target adolescents have acquired full protection, divided into two doses. “Of social justice” In this decade, the program had only been modified once: in 2016, to advance the age to 12 years. Now, Madrid follows in the footsteps of Asturias, Navarra or Catalonia and incorporates into its system the recommendations of the National Health System, which asked to extend the prophylaxis to new risk groups. The “age limit” for MSM equates them with “the first vaccinated women”, which this year turns 25, explains Ángel Hernández, member of the advisory committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics. “We celebrate the measure, it’s something of social justice, and until now, there has been a manifest inequality on the part of the public health system,” said Paco Ramírez, president of Colegas. “Trusting that the alleged group immunity generated by vaccination of only women was going to protect the rest of the population is very unscientific,” he adds. “Undoubtedly, MSM have barely been able to benefit.” Entities like these have been demanding the extension of the program for years.

To date, some studies indicate that HPV is already more prevalent among men and is known to be associated with tumors of the penis, mouth or anus. More groups included With young gays or bisexuals – or who occasionally have sex with other men, hence the most appropriate use of the term MSM -, the public Health of Madrid also funds vaccination of people since January (regardless of sex) under 26 years of age with HIV infection or who engage in prostitution. Likewise, the Community has included three other groups, somewhat smaller: women with excisional treatment of cervix of any age, those up to 45 years who have received an organ or bone marrow transplant and people diagnosed with WHIM syndrome, an immunodeficient disease weird.

According to the first data collected by the Ministry, in January alone, 256 men and 1,788 more women were protected under this new system. However, despite what was expected of the measure, it has not been the object of institutional publicity. It is true that it appears in the adult vaccination calendar of the Directorate of Public Health, but the situation is far from the 2008 campaign, when the Executive of Madrid sent thousands of letters to the parents of the beneficiaries. “It is not spreading proactively, even among professionals,” says Hernández. “Protecting women is crucial, but the incidence data on MSM are very high and vaccination against this virus can curb possible cancers,” insists Rubén Lodi, spokesperson for Arcópoli. The groups demand more information in order to “dismantle the arguments of the anti-vaccines”, alerts Ramírez. According to his figures, 2,000 men a year suffer cancers caused by HPV throughout the country. In addition, 650 associated deaths are registered, rates similar to those that experts calculate for uterine tumors. Outside of this first extension of the program, therefore, will remain heterosexual men, who already enjoy indirect immunity. However, the AEP proposes to include this prophylaxis also in the children’s booklets of children from 12 years of age to eradicate the virus. “They have to be the next step,” says Hernández. A virus, also, male The human papillomavirus (HPV) is transmitted in the same way to men and women through sexual contact, through contact with blood or mucous membranes without protection. Although more than a hundred strains have been identified, only a fraction is responsible for the appearance of genital warts and cancers of the cervix, vulva, anus, penis or mouth. Vaccination and the correct use of condoms throughout the relationship reduce the risk of infection.

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