Myths cause girls to ig­nore pro­tec­tion

Townsville Bulletin - - The Goss -

A QUAR­TER of Aus­tralian girls el­i­gi­ble for the free Gardasil vac­cine are not tak­ing up the of­fer, prompt­ing a move to dis­pel the ‘‘ myths’’ sur­round­ing the cancer-fight­ing jab.

Stud­ies into the vac­cine’s up­take in schools have re­vealed a poor un­der­stand­ing of the way it pro­tects against cer­vi­cal cancer, said Cancer Coun­cil Aus­tralia spokes­woman Kate Broun.

Also it high­lighted a concern among some par­ents over their daugh­ter, at ages 12 and 13, be­ing of­fered a vac­cine to do with sex when this is­sue was over the hori­zon.

‘‘ For some par­ents that has been a concern and it is a rea­son they have not con­sented to the vac­cine,’’ Ms Broun said.

‘‘ But I guess we would say there is no ev­i­dence to sug­gest that a girl who has been vac­ci­nated has gone on to have sex ear­lier, or any more sex­ual part­ners, than a girl who has not been vac­ci­nated.

‘‘ Per­haps that is a fear for some par­ents, but it is not a f e a r b a c k e d b y t h e ev­i­dence.’’

Health authorities aim to ad­min­is­ter t he Gardasil vac­cine be­fore sex­ual ac­tiv­ity be­gins, to max­imise its ef­fec­tive­ness.

T h e v a c c i n e p r o t e c t s against four strains of the

LIFE-SAV­ING JAB: the cancer coun­cil is en­cour­ag­ing girls to get the free Gardasil vac­cine h u ma n p a p i l l o ma v i r u s , w h i c h a r e s e x u a l l y trans­mit­ted and can cause gen­i­tal warts more im­me­di­ately or cer­vi­cal cancer later in a woman’s life.

With good take-up in the com­mu­nity, it could re­duce the nation’s fu­ture in­ci­dence of cer­vi­cal cancer by 70 per cent and cut cases of gen­i­tal warts by 90 per cent.

Other re­search has shown around half of teenage girls were un­aware that HPV was sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted, while two out of three did not know of its link to cer­vi­cal cancer.

Cancer Coun­cil Aus­tralia has launched ia new web­site ( cer­vi­cal­cancer­vac­cine. org. au) with the aim of boost­ing aware­ness and pro­vid­ing m o r e i n f o r m a t i o n par­ents.

The launch co­in­cides with the lat­est round of Gardasil vac­ci­na­tions in schools, and par­ents may have al­ready re­ceived the rel­e­vant con­sent forms.

Ms Broun said there were also cases where par­ents had changed their mind af­ter opt­ing out of the free

t o v a c c i n e , o n l y t o f i n d Gardasil costs $ 450 to ob­tain through a doc­tor.

‘‘ The dream is to erad­i­cate cancer by im­mu­nis­ing peo­ple against a virus that we know causes cancer . . . hope­fully we can dis­pel some of those myths and pro­vide par­ents with the in­for­ma­tion they need,’’ Ms Broun said.

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