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Boys were discriminated against in paying for HPV vaccination

Boys were discriminated against in paying for HPV vaccination

The HPV vaccine protects against various types of cancer, but only girls in Belgium are compensated for the vaccine. According to the Brussels Labor Court, this is contrary to the gender law and the anti-discrimination law.

Today, NIHDI only offers reimbursement for the HPV vaccine (under certain conditions) to girls and not to boys. For example, a boy who buys the Gardasil 9 vaccine at the pharmacy pays approximately 135 euros for it. This cost can increase to more than 400 euros, because many vaccinations are required for complete protection. On the other hand, the girl in the same mode pays 8 or 12 euros.

As a result of this unequal reimbursement, the Institute for the Equality of Women and Men received a complaint from a boy. Together, they appealed to Rzhev’s refusal to interfere with costs. According to them, the unequal treatment is a violation of gender law and anti-discrimination law, which the Brussels Labor Court ruled in their favour.

“This ruling is fully in line with recommendations made by the Institute on this issue together with Kom op tegen Kanker and the Cancer Foundation,” says Deputy Director Liesbet Stevens. That is, on the one hand, making reimbursement terms gender-neutral, and on the other hand, checking the possibility of compensatory vaccination for men who previously did not have the opportunity to be vaccinated.

Not just for women

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a group of closely related viruses that cause abnormal cell growth in the skin and mucous membranes. This can cause different types of cancers. The most well-known is cervical cancer, as it was long believed that the virus only affected women.

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However, a recommendation from the Supreme Health Council showed that a quarter of HPV-related cancers also occur in men. Since the 2019-2020 school year, girls and boys can therefore be protected through the free school vaccination programme. Those who do not qualify for this can also buy the vaccine themselves from a pharmacist.