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MLA diagnosed with cancer calls for HPV vaccinations for boys

Gordie Gosse, MLA for Sydney-Whitney Pier and former Speaker of the House, was back at work for the opening of the House Thursday. Marieke Walsh/Global News

HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia NDP MLA is turning his personal battle with cancer into a mission to help young boys avoid the same fate.

Gordie Gosse, the representative for Sydney-Whitney Pier and former Speaker of the House, was back at work for the opening of the House Thursday after announcing in April he was undergoing treatment for cancer.

“I’m feeling OK,” he said. “I’m on the road to recovery. It’s a pleasure to be back here today with my colleagues. It’s important for me to get my energy back and to be here.”

Gosse has human papillomavirus, which is likely the source of his cancer, and said he plans to push the province to vaccinate young boys against the virus.

HPV can lead to several types of cancer, including cervical cancer and throat cancer, as well as cancers of the neck and head. It is the most common sexually transmitted disease worldwide, and it has no cure.

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“My job now is to bring that to the forefront,” Gosse said.

Currently, only young girls are vaccinated against HPV. Children receive three shots over a six-month period.

“I still have a job to do: to make sure we get young boys vaccinated as we already do for young girls,” Gosse said. “That’s going to be my next mission in life.”

He said he plans to meet with the health minister Leo Glavine, who told the media he plans to look into the issue.

“I’m not really sure as to why boys have been excluded at this point but it’s an area that [we] will investigate,” Glavine said.

Gosse said he still needs a few more procedures, but has a 90 per cent chance of receiving a clean bill of health.

Earlier this month, Progressive Conservative MP Peter Kent opened up about his battle with cancer, which was also caused by HPV.

Kent is also advocating for young boys to get vaccinated against the virus.