No knowledge of HPV could prove fatal for women

Published on March 27, 2021 by

HPV centre of India annual report says 62 percent of people died out of ninety-six thousand cases reported of cervical cancer.

Bangalore: Lack of awareness about Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination among women is making them vulnerable to cervical cancer. 

Helen, a 23-year-old woman, said that she had no idea about the HPV vaccine and did not know what it is used for. She added, “I do know a little bit about cervical cancer, and that it happens in the area of the uterus.”

A study conducted by Clinical Epidemiology and Global Health in Karnataka stated that only 26.1 percent of women were aware about cervical cancer and only 3.8 percent knew about the HPV vaccination. It is the second most common cancer that affects women in India.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer in women can easily be prevented by vaccinating the young girls against the virus. 

Dr Shobha Venkat, a gynaecologist, said that the HPV vaccine should be given before initial sexual activity. The cost of the vaccine varies from Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 per dosage and should be given in two to three series. 

“In Bangalore, cost is not the main concern as people belong to middle and upper middle-class families. The main problem is that they are not aware of the vaccine,” she added.

The Food and Drug authority of India has approved the usage of Cervarix-TM and Gardasil-TM. These two vaccines are recommended by Advisory Committee for Vaccines and Immunization Practices (ACVIP) and World Health Organization (WHO) and they should ideally be given to girls aged between 9 and 14 years for the prevention of cervical cancer.

Dr Shiva Kumar Uppala, an oncologist, said that the efficacy of the vaccines against HPV is known to prevent 99 to 100 percent of the cases if given before the exposure. It can be prevented as most of the cancer cases are related to Human Papillomavirus. He added, “While vaccines do work as a prevention measure, still women should go through Pap test for earlier detection.”

The National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 reports that only 0.2 percent of women aged between 30-49 got screened in Bangalore for cervical cancer. As per the Human Papillomavirus and Related Diseases Report 2019, it is the second most common cancer in women aged 15-44 years in India.

Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) has listed the vaccine as optional for the children between the ages of 10 and 12, and as a result, it is not part of the Karnataka State Immunization Programme.

Pratima Shankar, a programme manager at Poorna Sudha Cancer Foundation, said that the government should initiate the HPV vaccination programme like any other vaccine which is mandatory among children. Without including it in the immunization programme, it is nearly impossible to vaccinate the young age group.

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