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Second round of HPV vaccinations underway

Grade 4 girls across the Flagstaff circuit in the Eastern Cape are being vaccinated for the second round against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) after the departments of health and education launched the HPV vaccination campaign.

According to health promoters from Lusikisiki, more than six schools in Flagstaff will see young girls vaccinated to protect them from getting cervical cancer caused by HPV.

The 2018 national vaccination campaign for the second round for girls in Grade 4 who are 9 years and older takes place until September. The HPV vaccine presents an opportunity for South Africa to address health inequalities. Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi announced in 2013 that SA will introduce the HPV vaccine to Grade 4 girls as part of the integrated school health programme. The vaccine is most effective in young girls and the department identified Grade 4 as the most suitable grade to start the vaccination programme.

The ABC of HPV

What is HPV?

HPV is a very common virus that infects most people at same time in their lives. Some of the virus can affect cells that could lead to cancer.

Who can get HPV?

Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV (women and men). A person who is infected with HPV can pass it on to his/her partner.

Why should girls be vaccinated against HPV?

The HPV vaccine is important to protect against HPV infection that could lead to cervical cancer later in life.

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is cancer that affects the cervix, which is the lower part of the womb. Cancer is when abnormal cells in the body start to grow very quickly and cannot be controlled by normal body process.

How can you confirm if a person has cervical cancer?

A special test called PSP smear is required to detect if a person has early signs of developing cervical cancer and cells from the cervix are collected and sent to laboratory for testing.

Human Papilloma Virus:

  • is a very common infection
  • has no visible symptoms
  • is most likely to infect adolescent girls and young women
  • is transmitted during sexual activity

HPV vaccine:

  • prevents infection from HPV strains which cause most cervical cancer
  • is safe and effective
  • has been used in many countries

HPV vaccine cannot:

  • treat or cure HPV infection
  • treat or cure cervical cancer
  • prevent or treat (HIV) infection
  • prevent or end pregnancy.

An edited version of this story was published by Health24.

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