About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides a summary of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination uptake among men who have sex with men (MSM) since implementation of the national programme in July 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted delivery of the HPV immunisation programme.

Main points

During the first 4 years of this vaccination programme:

  • 17,460 MSM who attended a sexual health clinic since July 2017 were eligible for the HPV vaccine. Of these, 70% (12,164) received at least one dose, thus entering the programme.
  • Of the 12,164 men who entered the programme, 53% (6,409) completed the full vaccination course: i.e. three doses for those aged 15 years and over; two doses for under 15.
  • Over half of the men entering the programme were aged 20-29 at the time of their first injection, while fewer than 1 in 10 were aged under 20.
Image caption MSM HPV uptake (%) by NHS board from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2021
Chart showing the uptake HPV % by NHS Board over the 4 years
  • All NHS board areas have been offering the vaccine to eligible individuals. However, there is variation in HPV uptake and completion by NHS board area, ranging from 54% to 89% uptake.


HPV is a virus transmitted through sexual contact and there are over 200 different types. Some types can cause cancers of the anus, penis, mouth and throat, vagina and vulva. Others cause genital warts, which is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and can have debilitating social, sexual and psychological effects for affected individuals.

 A HPV immunisation programme for MSM aged up to and including 45 years old was introduced in Scotland in July 2017. This is in addition to the school-based vaccination programme targeting girls which was implemented in 2008 and extended to include adolescent boys in academic year 2019-20. MSM are now routinely offered the HPV vaccine through sexual health clinics, with most offered a three dose schedule. The second dose should be given at least one month after the first and the third within 12 months of the second. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted on delivery of the HPV immunisation programme in both schools and sexual health clinics.

The programme was initiated based on advice from the UK Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, which recognised that MSM received little benefit from the national female only HPV programme, while also being at excess risk of HPV-associated disease. HPV ano-genital infection and related disease is disproportionately higher in MSM who are up to 20 times more likely than heterosexual men to develop anal cancer. Additionally, the incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer is increasing in high-income countries in all men. The potential beneficial impact of the HPV immunisation programme for MSM is therefore considerable.

Further information

The next release of this publication will be October 2022.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email phs.maternitystats@phs.scot.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 13 June 2022
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