March 4: International HPV Awareness Day
Today, March 4 is International HPV Awareness Day.⠀
We are pleased to be an Operating Partner in Nigeria of the International Papilloma Virus Society (IPVS) for the 6th year running.⠀
Why is HPV prevention important?
HPV infection is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) globally. Around 80% of us (male and female) will get HPV at some point and the virus often has no visible symptoms. This means it is very easy to get and to pass on.
HPV increases your risk of developing certain cancers; it is responsible for almost all cases of cervical and anal cancers and around one in three cases of mouth, throat and penile cancers globally.
Cervical cancer is the 2nd most common cancer among women in Nigeria. However, both men and women are at risk of HPV-related cancers which means that we all need to think about preventing HPV.
HPV related cancers include;
Cancer of the vulva
Cancer of the vagina
Cancer of the penis
Cancer of the anus
Cancer of the oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils)
What’s the best way to prevent against HPV infection?
Because HPV is mostly invisible and so easily passed on, the best way to prevent infection is through vaccination. There are more than 150 different strains of HPV. Vaccination protects against the types of HPV that are most likely to cause cancer. Some vaccines can also protect against genital warts.
Women should also get regular cervical screening tests (especially the HPV DNA test where available).
Can I get the HPV Vaccine?
The HPV vaccine is a safe vaccine that has been available for many years. HPV vaccination policy varies from country to country. Where it is available, it is generally licensed for use in 11 to 12 year-old girls and boys. In some countries, vaccination programmes start at age nine.
Current research tells us that vaccinating before young people are sexualy active offers the best protection from HPV-related cancer.
Some countries now offer vaccination to anyone under the age of 45 in order to protect against the high-risk strains of HPV associated with cancer.
At CancerAware, we have been at the forefront of getting the Government of Nigeria to include HPV vaccination into the routine immunisation programme so eligible girls can access us. You can lend your voice to the campaign by signing our online petition HERE
Do you have questions regarding HPV vaccination or cervical screening tests? Send us a message HERE