CERVICAL cancer is very common among women worldwide. The way forward is prevention of cervical cancer by vaccination using the HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccine, which has been shown to be effective in over 93 per cent of cases in cervical cancer prevention
HPV is a very common group of viruses. According to Registered nurse shavene walford, there are more than 100 types of HPV. It is important for women to do Pap smears as these help to detect early abnormal changes in the cervix that can progress to cervical cancer if left for a long time.
The HPV vaccine is widely available and is given initially, with a second dose one month later, and a third and final dose six months from the first.
HPV can be transmitted by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who has the virus. It is more commonly spread through vaginal and anal sex. Although commonly found in women, men are also at risk for HPV. Walford said that in rare instances, pregnant women with HPV can pass it to their babies during delivery.
It is strongly recommended that girls get the series of HPV vaccines by age 12. The series can be started at nine years old.
Many Jamaican mothers are not aware of the importance of the HPV vaccine, because it is not on the Ministry of Health’s list of mandatory vaccinations. And even if some are aware, they cannot afford it as the price ranges between $6,500 and $8,500 per shot. Walford believes that more health promotions need to be done by the Ministry and by health care workers to increase the public’s awareness about HPV. This way, women will take the preventative measure more seriously.
— Falon Folkes
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