TWO thirds of men who are eligible for a vaccine that protects against throat cancer have had the jag.

Since the human papillomavirus (HPV) was first made available on NHS Scotland to gay and bisexual men in 2017, 66 per cent have been immunised.

The figures from ISD Scotland show that 14,000 eligible men had attended a sexual health clinic between July 2017 and June 2019.

Of those individuals, 9,146 received at least one dose of HPV vaccine.

The majority of those immunised were aged 20 to 29, accounting for 4,798 HPV vaccinations.

The vaccine protects against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus that causes the majority of cervical cancer cases in women. However, the virus also causes cancers of the genitals, throat and mouth.

READ MORE: HPV present in 60% of Scottish male throat cancer cases 

It is already available to schoolgirls and is set to be rolled out to schoolboys in Scotland.

Jamie Rae, chief executive of the Throat Cancer Foundation, said: “We have campaigned rigorously to raise awareness of the link between throat cancers and HPV, and last year won a major public health victory in achieving gender equality when it comes to teenage children being vaccinated and getting protected against HPV related cancers.

“This is why we call for the HPV vaccine to be made freely available to all ages and genders of society and promoted through all GP practices.

“We believe the costs will result in long term savings of lower HPV related cancers diagnosis.”

READ MORE: School HPV programme achieving 'dramatic' cuts in cervical disease 

Alan Eagleson, Scotland hub manager for charity Terrence Higgins Trust, said he was delighted by the uptake figures.

He added: "HPV continues to have a significant impact on gay and bisexual men, as one of the leading causes of cancers. Since the introduction of a girls’ vaccine programme in 2008, there has been a dramatic decline in cervical cancers, with researchers noting a 90% drop in pre-cancerous cells.

"It’s really important that more men who are eligible for the vaccine access it via their local sexual health clinic so no one is left behind.

"We have also welcomed the decision to extend the vaccine to boys in schools – this is vital step to give boys best protection from HPV alongside girls."