'Have your say' offers everyone the chance to get involved in a different topic each month and be part of making positive changes. This will help ensure that young people receive great sexual health and wellbeing services which will enable them to live healthy lives. Topics and content for each month have been developed by our Brook Champions, enabling young people to really make a difference on issues which matter to them.
We value the voices of young people, parents/carers and professionals working with young people, and know with their input we can further develop Brook, positively influence the wider sexual health and wellbeing sector, and raise the profile of important topics.
Join the conversation #BrookHYS
How can I have my say?
There are more than 150 types (or ‘strains’) of human papillomavirus virus (HPV). Some strains of HPV are sexually transmitted . This means it can be spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex. HPV is common and most types are harmless. However, some strains of the virus can develop into genital warts or cancers (for example of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis or anus).
Since 2008, free HPV vaccines have been given to girls living in the UK and aged between 12 - 13 (which is great!). Boys of the same age are not currently vaccinated against HPV, unless they or their parents decide to pay to get them vaccinated. 15 countries including Australia, the United States and Canada now provide the HPV vaccine to boys.
Why we need your say:
Although condoms help to reduce the spread of HPV they do not prevent it. At the moment, the HPV vaccine is not provided on the NHS for young boys in the UK. The only males who receive it currently are men who have sex with men (MSM) under 45 years who attend sexual health clinics, as part of a limited pilot programme. Boys and their families who decide to get the vaccine privately have to pay between £130 - £150 per vaccine, with men needing between two and three doses depending on their age.
Young people’s voices have been left out of discussions around vaccinating boys and we want to change this. By getting involved we hope to be able to ensure there is equal access to this important vaccine.
‘The high take up of HPV vaccination in girls has been a great success at preventing avoidable cancers. Vaccinating boys will extend this cover and ensure that groups such as men who have sex with men (MSM) receive protection.’ Lawrence, 24 (young person)
“We have an imperfect system, all systems are, so you won’t be able to vaccinate everyone (especially vulnerable groups). By getting the boys vaccinated there’s a higher chance that everyone will be protected” Elena, 24 (young person)
“Even assuming that we have herd immunity from women, this doesn’t take into account for example, men who have sex with men, and preventative screening may catch people too late” Hannah, 23 (young person)
How your voices will be used:
You can read our position statement on HPV and vaccinating boys here. By getting the voice of the very people this affects, young people, we can add weight to current campaigns around equal access to the HPV vaccine. Decisions not to vaccinate boys across the country as part of a national campaign have been based on the cost and cost-effectiveness of the programme, rather than equality and improving health outcomes. The committee that advises the government on which vaccination programmes to run will be meeting this year to make a decision on whether or not males should be offered the HPV vaccine. We can add your voice to hopefully influence MPs.
We hope to use your voice through the results of the survey to write to members of parliament and government, who influence public health decisions (for example, the chair of the Health Select Committee and public health minister and shadow minister).
Have your say now!
Most unvaccinated people, or those not protected by the vaccine, are likely to become infected with HPV at some point in their lives, however their immune system is able clear the infection by itself in the majority of cases. This means not everyone who comes into contact with HPV will develop cancer or genital warts. For more information on the HPV vaccine, visit NHS Choices.
Statement from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, Robert Music, Chief Executive (2018)
99.7% of cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) and the current vaccination programme in the UK offers girls protection against two high-risk types of HPV that cause at least 70% of all cervical cancers. Uptake of the vaccine is high, however it has fallen in the last year and significant variation exists across the country. Maintaining and increasing uptake amongst girls must remain a priority if we are to protect future generations from cervical cancer, a disease that currently claims two lives every day. With vaccine uptake falling, offering boys the vaccine would provide further protection to unvaccinated females.
However, HPV does not just cause cervical cancer. It is also responsible for other cancers including anal, penile and head and neck cancers, cancers affecting both men and women. Head and neck cancer affect around 12,000 people a year in the UK and recent models suggest that HPV is responsible for between 12% and even as high as 73% of these. The current vaccination programme may provide males some protection against HPV through herd immunity, however this does not benefit men who have sex with men or with unvaccinated women. We see not vaccinating boys as a health inequality. Diagnoses of cancer in the UK are rising and our NHS is already at breaking point. If extending the current vaccination programme to boys could reduce diagnoses, and ultimately lives then we hope the decision is made to roll out a gender-neutral vaccination.
We ran a small survey and raised the awareness of mental health, and particularly stress, to support Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May) and those starting their exams. Mental health is something that affects everyone. At different times in their lives people of all ages can experience mental distress and possibly poor mental health. People may suffer from problems such as anxiety, depression or a range of other mental health problems. The more we understand and talk about mental health, the better we can support people who experience up and downs in life or other problems.
What we found out:
From the people* who had their say we can share that...
Some exam tips included:
My exams were a very stressful but very rewarding period. I made a wicked revision time table and I just stuck to that. I took opportunities to get help in revision sessions from my teachers (1/2) #brookHYS— Heloise Worden (@HeloiseBryony) May 3, 2018
How changes are being made:
The results of the survey will be used to support the transformation of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Sandwell where we are collating the reviews of young people to ensure the services are suitable for young people. The results will be shared and explored further in the area to identify ways to overcome barriers for people benefiting from mental health support.
Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC)
We ran a small survey and raised the awareness of LARC as although they are the most reliable methods of contraception many young people are not made aware of them or even offered them when seeking contraception. We want to ensure that everyone is offered all methods of contraception, particularly LARC, in all settings including specialist sexual health clinics and GPs. Alongside this we want to ensure we are educating young people on all methods of contraception so they can choose the right method for them. To do this, we need to increase the awareness of LARC so young people make informed decisions about their own reproductive health.
What we found out:
From the people* who had their say we can report there is a mixed experience of LARC and contraception. Some people hadn't even heard of LARC before!
In addition around half the responses shared that when seeking emergency contraception they were not told about the IUD as an alternative to the emergency contraceptive (morning after pill).
How changes are being made:
We ran a survey to learn more about what motivates people to volunteer, and how they’d like to get involved.
What we found out: A short summary of what we found out includes:
How changes are being made: We are now working with our Participation and Volunteering Lead Volunteers to develop our volunteer roles to ensure that our opportunities are exciting, and fit your criteria!
Why not take a look at our current volunteering opportunities to see how you can get involved!