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Anti-HPV action ongoing

Round two of a HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination campaign run by Western Cape Government Health takes place from 7 to 14 August.

The health department’s teams visited 1 106 schools during the first round in March, in which they administered the HPV vaccine to 41 604 Grade 4 girls.

Girls who missed the opportunity then owing to absenteeism, or by being under the recommended age, may now be able to receive it in the second round.

Public and special schools across the Western Cape will be visited in an attempt to reach 90% of the 48 305 Grade 4 learners.

Health campaigns, free services and vaccinations, such as the HPV vaccination, all form part of the department’s effort to improve the health of all women in the Western Cape. HPV is responsible for 99% of all cervical cancer cases.

The Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, stated: “It is imperative that we encourage parents to vaccinate their daughters. Maternal and child health form part of the quadruple burden of disease. The focus is prevention and promotion rather than curative. That is why we appeal to all Grade 4 girls to inform their parents, guardians and extended families that the vaccination is available.’

It has been four years since Western Cape Government Health has introduced the Cervarix® vaccine in March 2014.

Parents and caregivers have an important decision to make when their daughter enters Grade 4, as the vaccination is administered only to this age group, and only girls with signed consent forms will receive it.

Why vaccinate against HPV?

. Two strains of HPV (HPV-16 and HPV-18) are found to cause more than 70% of cervical cancer cases.

. Cervarix® is the vaccination that will be administered in two doses for optimal cover. It protects against the HPV-16 and HPV-18 strains.

HPV is an extremely common virus and an estimated 80% of women will be infected with it some time in their life.

The virus causes cancerous cells to develop on the upper layers (called the cylinder epithelial) of the cervix. Left unchecked, the cells grow into cancer, which will spread into the uterus and can spread to any other area of the body.

The vaccination protects girls from being infected by HPV and reduces the risk of developing HPV-related cervical cancer later in life. The younger one’s daughter is, the better her body’s immune system can respond to the vaccine, resulting in the production of protective antibodies against the virus.

The vaccination, administered by injection in two doses, does not promote sexual promiscuity, but ensures that when girls reach adulthood they are protected from developing cancer caused by HPV.

For more information, one can refer to the frequently asked questions section about HPV by visiting www.westerncape.gov.za.

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