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The Government's principal advisor on health and disability: improving, promoting and protecting the health of all New Zealanders

HPV immunisation - now free for boys and young men

HPV infection can cause cancer in men and women. Immunisation is now free for everyone aged 9 to 26 inclusive.

Read more about getting immunised against HPV.

Video title: HPV Immunisation - now free for boys and young men

[Graphic - HPV Vaccine (Human papillomavirus Vaccine) Helps prevent cancers caued by HPV infection]

Voiceover: Human papillomavirus or HPV, is a common disease which can lead to serious health issues for some people in later life.

[Various shots of young people with doctors and nurses preparing to receive their immunisation.]

Fortunately, girls and now boys as well can be vaccinated against HPV.

[Title: A doctor's view of HPV]

[Dr Kiriana Bird sitting in her clinic.]

Dr Kiriana Bird: Kia ora! I’m Dr Kiriana Bird. We’ve had HPV immunisation for New Zealand girls since 2008, but now it’s free for boys and young men as well. So I’m here today to tell you why HPV immunisation is important for our tāne. Let’s start by understanding just what HPV is.

HPV is a really common virus that lives in our skin cells and is passed on through intimate contact.

[Shots of kids playing football.]

Without immunisation about four out of five of us, men and women, will catch HPV, usually in our late teens or early adulthood. Most of the time it gets better on its own and we don’t even notice - but we can still pass it on to others, and if it doesn’t get better, it can lead to cancer later in life. HPV can also cause genital warts.

[Boy sitting with nurse preparing to be immunised.]

The good news is you can immunise against HPV, and the really good news is that it’s now free for boys as well as girls.

[Graphic shows the parts of the body affected if HPV is contracted.]

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer caused by HPV, which is why HPV immunisation was provided first for girls. But the virus causes cancers in other body parts as well. About a third of all HPV cancers affect men, most commonly in the throat and mouth, and rates for male HPV cancers are rising. HPV cancer can also affect the genital area.

[Title - A patient's experience with HPV]

[Dr Andrew Miller arriving at his hotel, sitting in Doctor's clinic]

Voiceover: Dr Andrew Miller has arrived in Auckland for cancer surgery. It will be invasive, but he’s decided to let us in as a warning about the need to vaccinate against the cancer-causing virus HPV.

[Graphic showing 80% of the population infected with HPV]

80% of New Zealanders at some point will acquire HPV. 4 out of 5. The only real way of protecting is to be immunised.

Of that 80%, all but around 10% will shake that infection off, but those that don’t are the worry.

[Graphic showing HPV affecting both women and men.]

And what most of us don’t know is that HPV isn’t just a cancer risk to women, it’s a cancer risk to men as well.

Dr Andrew Miller: There is a very obvious and well-known link between an HPV and causing cervical cancer, but you know if you talk to head and neck surgeons they’ll be seeing a big rise in head and neck cancers caused by HPV as well.

I’ve been diagnosed with a thing called a squamous cell carcinoma inside my nose. Umm it’s ended up going from the inside of my nose down into my jawbone and round the other side there, and it’s going to require some fairly extensive treatment to get it out.

[Andrew being weighed on an electronic scale]

Voiceover: But what he didn’t expect was the likely culprit, HPV.

[External shot of the Gillies McIndoe Research Institute building]

Voiceover: Dr Miller’s not alone. Health professionals and researchers are increasingly becoming aware of HPV’s role in cancers affecting men as well as women.

[Shots of Dr Swee Tan in his office and laboratory.]

Dr Swee Tan: Compared with other throat cancers, HPV positive throat cancers typically effect younger men. On average these men die 10 years younger than those with cancers not caused by HPV.

[Dr Swee Tan working in the lab, looking at a computer screen.]

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy is currently the standard treatment for throat cancers.

This profoundly effects the quality of life and the daily functioning of the effected individuals. They lose the sense of taste and smell and often have difficulty in swallowing and speaking.

The thing is these HPV induced cancers are preventable. The decision to include boys in the HPV immunisation programme wills save lives, prevent suffering and reduce the huge cost of treatment. we need to protect our children now for their future.

[Title: A Māori health advisor's view of HPV]

[Arthur Selwyn sitting at his desk, on the computer. External shots of the Ministry of Health building]

Arthur: Ko te aroha o tēnei mate pukupuku HPV, ko te pāmamae ki runga i o tātau whānau.

He mate kei te pā i o tātau mātua, i te wā e manaaki ana i o rātau whānau.

Kia kore e pā ēnei mate pukupuku HPV, otirā, kia wawe te whai oranga mo ēnei mate, ka roa ake, ka noho ora ake tātau katoa.  

Mehemea ka whāngaihia o tātau tamariki ki te rongoa i tēnei rā, ka noho ora mo ake ngā whānau whānui i ngā rā ki mua.

[Nurses sitting with children about to get their immunisation]

Voiceover: The HPV vaccine has an excellent safety record, with very few risks, similar to other childhood vaccines. You can find out more about the vaccine’s safety and common reactions on the Ministry of Health website.
    
Dr Kiriana: The best time to be immunised is at age 11 or 12, before our young people are at risk of getting HPV.

[Kids playing on a playground.]

At that age, their immune systems are really effective at making antibodies in response to the vaccine. Protection from the vaccine is long-lasting and is not expected to wear off over time.

[Graphic showing reduced disease rates for HPV infection, genital warts, High-grade Cervical Cell Changes and Low-grade Cervical Cell Changes.]

Over the last decade, diseases caused by HPV have fallen significantly among young people in countries like New Zealand that offer HPV immunisation.

That’s why, as health professionals, we recommend HPV immunisation, as does the Ministry of Health.

[Various shots of kids sitting with nurses preparing to be immunisied.]

The HPV vaccine is available free at school for Year 8 girls and boys. It is also available free at your local doctor or health clinic for anyone, male or female, aged from 9 – 26 years of age.

[Title: To find out more, talk to your doctor, practice nurse or health clinic, or phone 0800 IMMUNE (466 863)]

For more information, talk to your doctor, practice nurse or health clinic; visit www.health.govt.nz/hpv or phone 0800 IMMUNE.

[Graphic showing Immunise logo and 'our best protection' slogan.]


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