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HPV vaccine offered to gay, bisexual men

TORONTO – Ontario is expanding its free vaccine for the human papillomavirus or HPV to people aged 26 or younger who identify as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men, including some transgender people.

Health Minister Eric Hoskins says men who have sex with men are at increased risk of HPV infection, which can lead to penile and anal cancer.

Hoskins says HPV is a very common virus that is blamed for an estimated 254 deaths and over 1,000 cases of cancer in Ontario every year.

READ MORE: Ontario extends its free HPV vaccination program to grade 7 boys

Ontario had already announced plans to offer the HPV vaccine to boys as well as girls in Grade 7 this fall as part of its routine school-based immunization program. Previously, it was offered only to girls in Grade 8.

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Experts estimate that without vaccination, 75 per cent of sexually active Canadians will get HPV in their lifetime.

READ MORE: HPV vaccine could be given in 2 doses, not 3, UBC research suggests

Eligible young gay and bisexual men will be able to receive the HPV vaccine through their local public health unit starting in September.