immunization program in the Philippines

Boys should be included in HPV vaccination drive – specialist

Erwin Delilan

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Boys should be included in HPV vaccination drive – specialist

CERVICAL CANCER VAX CAMPAIGN. The doctor panelists during the anti cervical cancer campaign in Bacolod on Friday, May 10. (L-R) Dr. Joy David Vallega, Dr. Norman Cabaya, Dr. Aimee Marie Gayomali and Dr. Claire Capiral.


Males can be carriers of the human papilloma virus which is why they must be included in the vaccination campaign, a health expert says

BACOLOD, Philippines – The campaign against cervical cancer should include boys aged 9 to 14, as they can also be potent carriers of the human papilloma virus (HPV), a specialist in Western Visayas said on Friday, May 10.

Aside from cervical cancer, HPV, a group of viruses that is spread via multiple sexual contacts, also causes vulvar, rectal, penile and orapharyngeal (throat and mouth) cancer, said Dr. Joy David Vallega, a medical specialist at the Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH), during a press conference in relation to Cervical Cancer Awareness Month in Bacolod City on Friday, May 10.

“Males or boys as potent carriers of HVP, therefore, need to be included in the anti-cervical cancer campaign and vaccination,” Vallega said.

Vallega said it is better to give the HPV vaccine to boys aged 9 to 14 years, or before they become promiscuous. This way, the government can save because they only need two doses, and not three, to be declared fully-vaccinated against HPV.

The campaign is currently focused on women aged 30 to 65.

Vallega said that that the inclusion or boys or men in the campaign against cervical cancer is considered a taboo subject in the country but should be considered by public health authorities.

“With this, we’re not just saving the Philippines’ women population from cervical cancer, but also the men population from any other types of cancer also caused by HPV,” she said.

The World Health Organization (WHO), in an updated position paper on  HPV vaccines released in December 2022, said that for cervical cancer prevention, “the WHO-recommended primary target population for HPV vaccination is girls aged 9 to 14 years before they become sexually active.”

“HPV immunization programs should prioritize high coverage from the time of introduction. Achieving over 80% coverage in girls also reduces the risk of HPV infection for boys,” the WHO said.

“Vaccination of secondary target populations, e.g. females aged ≥15 years, boys, older males or MSM, is recommended only if this is feasible and affordable, and does not divert resources from vaccination of the primary target population or effective cervical cancer screening programs,” it added.

Bacolod records

Dr. Claire Capiral, Medical Officer III and Cancer Program Coordinator at the Bacolod City Health Office (BCHO), said there were 12 Bacoleñas who died of cervical cancer in 2024.

Cervical cancer is estimated to cause 341,831 deaths across the world every year, most in developing countries.

Dr. Aime Marie Gayomali, Medical Officer IV at the Department of Health (DOH)-Western Visayas said that cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women in the world, and the second most common among Filipinas, next to lung cancer.

“And treatment against full-blown cervical cancer is costly, ranging from P250,000 to a half a million pesos or up,” she said.

The DOH is, therefore, ramping up an intensified campaign against cervical cancer, especially for women aged 30 to 65 years old, Gayomali said.

Gayomali said the DOH sets a 90-70-90 template on cervical cancer campaign – 90% of women, starting from age 15 to be informed about HPV and cervical cancer, 70% to be screened, and 90% shall be treated later.

With a very dismal HPV vaccination rate all over the country at only 0.6% last year, Gayomali said the DOH targets to immunize at least 5% of the total women population in the Philippines against the dreaded HPV virus in 2024.

Included in the 5% target are the 23,000 women in Negros Occidental and 5,000 from Bacolod City, Gayomali said. “But this HPV vaccination will be perpetual then until we reach the herd immunity on cervical cancer in the countries like New Zealand and Australia,” she added.

“Thus, our appeal for Negrense women, please, be informed, be screened, be vaccinated,” she said.

Dr. Norman Cabaya, point person of Cancer Control Program at CLMMRH, said cervical cancer is preventable as long as it is detected early.

Starting this May to July, HPV screening and vaccination is for free for indigent women at CLMMRH.

But on top of HPV vaccine, Vallega said the “best cure” against cervical cancer is mutual monogany thus couples are advised to better subscribe to “may forever (there is forever).” –

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