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Wednesday, 06 September 2023 19:10

Second round of HPV vaccinations underway in Gauteng.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Photo Credit: Leigh Prather.

The Department of Health in Gauteng on Wednesday announced the start of the second phase of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations in all public primary and special schools in the province.

The department's spokesperson Motalatale Modiba says the vaccination will help protect girls from developing cancer later in life. 

"We would like to call on parents, caregivers and legal guardians who have not yet signed the consent form to do so in order to ensure that their children do not miss out on the HPV vaccination drive. The vaccine is administered on schoolgirls that are in grade 5, aged 9-years and above.

"In February 2023 to March 2023 during the first dose of the vaccination drive, a total of 72 880 grade 5 girls out of 90 492 were vaccinated with HPV first dose vaccine. All these girls are due to receive their 2nd HPV vaccine dose. 

"Those girls who were not yet 9-years-old and are still in grade 5 or were absent during the first round will also be given their HPV first doses." 

The ABC of HPV

What is HPV?

HPV is a very common virus that infects most people at same time in their lives. Some of the virus can affect cells that could lead to cancer.

Who can get HPV?

Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV (women and men). A person who is infected with HPV can pass it on to his/her partner.

Why should girls be vaccinated against HPV?

The HPV vaccine is important to protect against HPV infection that could lead to cervical cancer later in life.

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a cancer that affects the cervix, which is the lower part of womb. Cancer is when abnormal cells in the body start to grow very quickly and cannot be controlled by normal body process.

How can you confirm if a person has cervical cancer?

A special test called PSP smear is required to detect if a person has early signs of developing cervical cancer and cells from cervix are collected and sent to laboratory for testing.

Human papillomavirus (HPV):

• Is a very common infection

• Has no visible symptoms

• Is most likely to infect adolescent girls and young women

• Is transmitted during sexual activity

HPV vaccine:

• Prevents infection from HPV strains which cause most cervical cancer

• Is safe and effective

• Has been used in many countries

HPV vaccine cannot:

• Treat or cure HPV infection

• Treat or cure cervical cancer

• Prevent or treat (HIV) infection

• Prevent or end pregnancy.