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“This service continues to be rolled out to MSM across public STI clinics,” a HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI).
At the end of quarter one 2017, the HPV vaccine was available in 12 out of 22 public STI clinics, with 59 MSM having commenced vaccination.
“Momentum has been increasing over the year. By the end of August 2017, the HPV vaccine was available in 14 public STI clinics and 353 MSM had commenced HPV vaccination,” said the spokesperson.
“For adult HIV and STI services, it is not possible to calculate HPV vaccine uptake as information on the number of patients attending services within the eligible age category is not yet available.”
In October 2016 the HPV vaccination was extended to HIV-positive men and women from 16 to 26 years attending public HIV services.
The HPV vaccine was available in one public adult HIV service by the end of 2016. This service has been extended to three out of seven public adult HIV services by the end of quarter one, 2017, the HSE has told this newspaper.
“The HPV vaccine is also available in public paediatric HIV services. Adolescent boys are provided with all three doses in the paediatric HIV service,” a HSE spokesperson told MI.
“We have seen a 78 per cent uptake of HPV vaccinations in adolescent boys by the end of July 2017.”
The HSE admitted to this newspaper that inadequate staff resources have had an impact on the roll-out of the service.
“Staff capacity has been identified as a challenge in making the HPV vaccine available across many adult HIV and STI services,” said the spokesperson.
“Additional nursing staff are being recruited.”
The falling uptake level of the HPV vaccine among schoolgirls, from 87 per cent to around 50 per cent, has been a source of much controversy and political debate over the past year.
According to the HSE, 660,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered and more than 230,000 girls have been fully vaccinated against HPV to date. It said the most recent uptake rates are beginning to show some improvement.