Vaccines against HPV - Cervical Cancer Awareness
Cervical Cancer Awareness Month is marked every year in January, to encourage women to be more attentive to their reproductive health, since most women tend to neglect it.Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is among the most common cancers in women worldwide, the greatest burden being in developing countries. In Kenya, cervical cancer ranks number two as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths and is also the second most common cancer among women.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
More than 95% of cervical cancers are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). It is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract, and therefore, most sexually active people end up infected at some point in their lives. Some may be repeatedly infected.
Although most HPV infections clear up on their own and most pre-cancerous lesions resolve spontaneously, there is a risk for all women that HPV infection may become chronic, as precancerous lesions progress to invasive cervical cancer.
Good news everyone, VACCINES EXIST!!!
The Cervical Cancer Awareness campaign this year is focusing on the HPV vaccine, which is a preventive technique to help curb the rise of cervical cancer. This vaccine targets young adolescents aged 10 -14 with the assumption being they're not exposed to the virus.
Women up to the age of 26 years are also eligible for the vaccine, only if they are not sexually active.
Other than cervical cancer, this virus also causes oropharyngeal, vulvovaginal, penile, and anal cancers. Therefore, parents of adolescents ( both boys and girls) are encouraged to take their kids to get this vaccine.
This vaccine is also available to women less than 44 years who are not sexually active. Nonetheless, the vaccine is not encouraged at this age due to the risk of exposure to the virus at some point; there may be an increased risk of viral proliferation.
At this age, there is also compromised immunity hence the body may not be able to self-limit and get rid of the virus.
The vaccine is available in both public and private hospitals scheduled as a two-dose immunization. The second dose is given 6 months after the first.
All public hospitals offer immunization against HPV free of charge to young girls between 10-14 yrs.
In private hospitals, however, the vaccine goes for 3,600 Ksh.
Available options include:
-The Nairobi Hospital
-Aga Khan University Hospital
-MP Shah Hospital
In other news, have you had your cervical pap smear yet?
See our IG post on it here
Our blog this month was written by Dr Haji Fatuma and Dr Esther Gitonga. Our gratitude and thanks from the Leleshwa Team.