On this episode of the Health For Mzansi podcast, a friend in crisis pleads with parents to ensure that their children are vaccinated against HPV. The Integrated School Health Programme with the joint efforts of the departments of health, basic education and social development has a Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccination Programme running in South Africa.
HPV is a very common virus. The virus lives on the skin and can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. This week, Dr Michelle Bryan, a gynaecologist at the Paarl Hospital, shares her insights on HPV vaccinations.
Bryan says that HPV viruses No 16 and 18 are responsible for most HPV-related cancers. Some of the other high-risk HPV types are responsible for the remainder of cervical cancer cases.
Parents: listen up
The vaccine is provided free of charge every year to girls between Grades 4 and 7 in all government schools.
“The reason why we are encouraging children to get the HPV vaccination is because of the huge threat. It is an international problem and we want to help people prevent the problem. HPV is the acronym for human papillomavirus and there are about 100 different types of them and what they do is that they cause warts,” says Bryan.
Some strains of HPV cause genital warts in men and women. Close to 80% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV.
“Specifically, number 16 and number 18 and five others are high risk. Essentially, what they do is, is that they can cause cancer. The areas where they can cause cancer if you are exposed to them are the cervix, the vagina, the vulva, the anus, the penis and the back of the throat.”
How HPV vaccination protects your child
The function of the HPV vaccine is prevention, says Bryan.
“If someone is exposed to it, it cannot progress to cancer and it has been shown to be highly effective. The best time to give this vaccination is to somebody that is pre-being exposed to it. HPV is transmitted through sexual contact, not necessarily through penetration but any form of contact, it is, therefore, essential they have it before they have sex for the first time.”
Listen to the full interview on Sisters Without Shame
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