A Canadian teenager is reportedly fighting for boys to receive the same free access to the HPV vaccine as girls, The Vancouver Sun reports. Nelson Roy, 13, and his twin brother Elliott have filed a human rights complaint and claim the province of British Colombia’s immunization program is discriminatory against young men.
The Sun reports that two years ago when Nelson Roy was in sixth grade, he couldn’t understand why only young girls were receiving the vaccine for HPV, the sexually transmitted infection spelled out as human papillomavirus that studies have shown can cause several types of cancer.
“It just didn’t seem right,” Roy said. “We did a little bit of research and found out that both people were recommended to get it, but they’re only giving it to girls for free, so I was a little upset about that.”
Many across British Colombia agree with the Roy Twins. The Canadian Cancer Society is one of 25 health organizations to show the teens support and it, too, wants equality for both genders.
“No one should have to rely on their partner for protection from a cancer-causing virus,” Julia Hayos, of the Canadian Cancer Society told The Sun. “What we know is that in B.C., since the vaccine was introduced, about a third of girls across the province who are eligible for the vaccine aren’t actually getting vaccinated.”
The program does technically offer free vaccines to boys and men, however, only to those labeled “at risk,” like gay men, those under government care, or those infected with HIV, among others.
HPV vaccines became prevalent due to their link to cervical cancer, which only affects women. According to the National Cancer Institute, almost all cases of cervical cancer can be attributed to HPV, but that extends to roughly 95 percent of anal cancer diagnoses as well.