Stacey Solomon Calls For Boys To Be Vaccinated Against HPV
Loose Women panellist Stacey Solomon has joined in on the debate on whether boys should also be vaccinated against human papilloma virus (HPV) after opening up about when she contracted the virus.
Stacey told the panel how talking publicly about contracting the virus, which could have led to cervical cancer, made her feel 'dirty'.
The panel debated whether the HPV vaccine, which is delivered to teenage girls to prevent against cancer, should also be offered to teenage boys.
28-year-old Stacey explained: "I did get nervous talking about it in the beginning. I almost felt a bit dirty.
"I thought, if I was to talk about something I contracted sexually, it makes me [look like] someone who sleeps around, or is irresponsible.
"But I was taking all the precautions."
However Stacey is far from being in the minority as HPV is extremely common and almost every sexually-active person will get the virus at some point in their lives, and most will never have develop symptoms or health problems.
The virus is passed on through skin to skin contact and comes in 150 different strains, however it is thought that only two of the strains can lead to cancer.
Peter Baker, Campaign Director at HPV Action, which campaigns for gender equality when it comes to vaccinations, told PRETTY52 how there is a 'huge lack of public awareness' over the virus.
"Particularly as there has been a vaccination programme for girls in this country since 2008, it does seem that a lot of girls having the vaccine and their parents were giving permission for that without a real understanding of what that's all about.
"I think because we now understand that HPV is implicated in a range of cancers and also genital warts I think there does need to be more awareness - not only how you can reduce the risk of transmitting and acquiring HPV but also how you can prevent it altogether through vaccination."
However, Peter did stress that contracting any of the other strains of HPV does not make a person any more likely to contract the dangerous strains that can lead to cancer, as many of the strains have no effect on health at all.
He also points out that there is no screening process to test if people have picked up on the high risk strains until women reach 25 where they will be offered regular smear tests.
"It's worth pointing out that although 80 per cent of people who are sexually active acquire HPV, for most of us our immune systems deal with it and it has no impact. You have to be quite unlucky for it to cause a serious problem.
"Having said that the numbers of people who are affected is still quite large. Five per cent of all cancers worldwide are caused by HPV so although the risk to individuals is quite low, it's still causing an awful lot of cancer."
HPV Action is now calling for all teenage boys to be vaccinated to prevent them from developing the cancerous strains which can lead to penile, anal, head and neck cancers.
"Ten years ago when the decision was made to vaccinate teenage girls, the evidence wasn't as strongthat HPV causes cancers that affect men too.
"We know that the numbers of people getting head and neck cancers in particular are rising exponentially, so there is a big, big problem."
Featured Image Credit: PA Images/ITV