Protecting adolescents with HPV vaccine

Across more than 80 countries, millions of girls are now able to get vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), substantively reducing their risks of developing cervical cancer later in life.

Modesta is among the many 14-year-olds who have been vaccinated in Tanzania since a national roll-out began in April this year. Together with her best friends, she is now waiting to receive her second dose at a busy clinic in the nation’s bustling city of Dar es Salaam.  She explains that she and her parents were happy for her to get the vaccine.

“I’m hoping to become a Health Minister one day”, she says smiling. “And when I do I will make sure that girls of my age get vaccinated against HPV. We are the young and future generation, and HPV vaccine can help us avoid getting sick.”

Spread primarily through sexual transmission, the human papillomavirus causes almost all cervical cancer cases – a disease that too often, affects relatively young women in the height of their productive years. It causes more years of life lost than any other form of cancer, with immeasurable human costs. Every two minutes, somewhere in the world, one woman will lose her life to the disease.

WHO recommends HPV vaccination for girls alongside screening and treatment for older women to reduce their cancer risks. The vaccine is most effective when given early in adolescence between the age of 9 and 14 years – before girls are exposed to the virus.

This article appeared first in the World Heath Organization Website