As South Africa’s health department forges ahead with its third annual human papillomavirus – HPV vaccination drive, Northern Cape has held a public meeting geared towards enlightening care givers on the importance of allowing their young girls be vaccinated to prevent cervical cancer.
Against growing fear of the assumed effect of the vaccine to young girls, the health department said it has recorded an increased number of girls being vaccinated.
Spokesperson Joe Maila said more than 340,000 Grade 4 school girls of nine years and older have been vaccinated against the virus annually since 2014.
HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses. Each HPV virus in this large group is given a number which is called its HPV type. There are more than 40 HPV types that can infect the genital areas of males and females. But there are vaccines that can prevent infection with the most common types of HPV.
Statistics show that one in every eight women who die in South Africa is a victim of complications resulting from cancer of the cervix. This if explained means that if your daughter attends a party with seven other little girls, one of them may die as a result of cancer of the cervix.
In South Africa, 5 743 new cases of cervical cancer are reported each year and about 3 027 of these are fatal. Health department explained further that almost 80% of cervical cancers are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).
However, like most South Africans fear, 74 years old Margaret Marumo explained why she initially refused to let her daughter be vaccinated.
According to health24, Marumo who looks after her granddaughter said she initially withdrew from giving her granddaughter HPV vaccination because she thought it will hamper her grand daughter’s sexual activeness.
“I was afraid this injection would make my grandchild feel free to be sexually active at a very young age,”
Marumo went further to say that a recent public dialogue held in the Kuruman area helped her understand the vaccine’s benefits, and why it was important to vaccinate children before they became sexually active and were exposed to the cancer-causing virus.
SA’s health department explained further that the HPV vaccination prevents the infection of the virus from developing on the cervix and that World Health Organisation has recommended that sexually naive girls and girls between the ages of nine and 13 years be vaccinated against HPV.
However, the department fell about 60,000 girls short of their targeted 100 percent vaccination rate.
“This was mostly children forgetting to bring consent forms to school or who were absent,” the department’s Spokesperson Joe Maila said. “We think getting up to 340,000 is quite successful. We are hoping that eventually it will be 100 percent.”
Here are Important facts you should Know About HPV
- HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- There are many different types of HPV. Some types can cause health problems including genital warts and cancers.
- You can contact HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus
- HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms.
- Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person.
- Genital warts usually appear as a small bump or group of bumps in the genital area. They can be small or large, raised or flat, or shaped like a cauliflower.
- Though Cancer takes years to develop after a person gets HPV, the types of HPV that can cause genital warts are not the same as the types of HPV that can cause cancers.
- People with weak immune systems (including individuals with HIV/AIDS) may be less able to fight off HPV and more likely to develop health problems from it.
- HPV vaccination can protect males and females against diseases (including cancers) caused by HPV when given in the recommended age groups
- Use latex condoms to reduces chances of being infected but HPV can infect areas that are not covered by a condom – so condoms may not give full protection against getting HPV