Irish Independent - Health & Living - - MIND MATTERS -

• 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

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