Youth (aged 9 to 26) living with HIV are now included in BC's free HPV vaccine program! This is an exciting and important change as not all youth living with HIV were previously able to get the HPV vaccine.
Gardasil9, the brand name of the vaccine used in the BC vaccination program, is very effective at preventing HPV, particularly when received before possible sexual exposure to HPV. BC first offered the HPV vaccine free of charge to girls in Grade 6 starting in 2008.
Over time, the BC government has continued to expand the number of people who are eligible for a free HPV vaccine. Just last summer, the program was expanded to include vulnerable boys and men. At the time, we welcomed the changes, while also continuing our advocacy to ensure youth living with HIV and Hep C would also be able to access the vaccine. In September 2016, the HPV vaccine is provided at no cost to those of us who are:
- girls in Grade 6
- girls and young women born between 1994 and 2004 who have not been vaccinated already
- girls and women living with HIV
- men aged 9 to 26 who are having, or may in the future have, sex with men, are street-involved, and/or are HIV-positive
- boys and young men aged 9 to 18 who are in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development or in custody services centres
(The language used here is gendered to reflect the provincial guidelines and policies.)
Access to the HPV vaccine is important for those of us living with HIV since having both HIV and HPV in our bodies worsens the impact of these viruses on our health.
Talking to a doctor or a nurse is a good way to know if the HPV vaccine is right for us. If we are living with HIV and get care from a doctor, this could be a good person to talk to about whether or not we want to get the HPV vaccine. Clinics can help us learn more about the HPV vaccine. To learn more about clinic options, see our page on STI testing here.
Smart Sex Resource also has a clinic finder that shows us a map of clinics throughout British Columbia, including when they are open and what kinds of services they provide.
We recognize that the HPV vaccine has health benefits for youth, and we continue to welcome expanded access to a publicly funded HPV vaccine program.
To learn more about the HPV vaccine program, visit the Immunize BC website.