5 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT HPV
• Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is spread by direct (usually sexual) contact with an infected person. About 80pc of all women will have a HPV infection in their lifetime, usually in their late teens and early 20s.
Most HPV infections clear naturally but some caused by high-risk HPV types can progress to cervical cancer.
Two high-risk HPV types (16 and 18) cause over 70pc of cervical cancers.
• The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine protects seven out of 10 cervical cancers and works best when given at the age of 12 to 13 years. It also protects against head and neck, anal and penile cancers.
The HPV vaccine is currently available free of charge from the HSE for all girls in 1st year of second level school.
• The World Health Organisation says the HPV vaccine is safe. About 300 Irish women get cervical cancer every year and 90 of them will die from it. This year, two out of every three girls have received the vaccine as part of the school vaccination programme.
• The National Immunisation Advisory Committee has recommended that all boys at 12-13 years of age should receive HPV vaccine as part of the national HPV vaccination programme on the recommendation of the World Health Organisation. A decision on this by the Department of Health is expected towards the end of the year.
• HPV vaccines have also been shown to be effective in preventing infection in men. Some countries, for example Australia and the US, recommend routine vaccination for boys.
For more information about HPV, visit hpv.ie