A step forward for womens health

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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AMHERST  Close to 200 Cumberland County girls are among the first in Canada to receive a publicly-funded vaccination for the Human Papilloma Virus, the leading cause of cervical cancer.

A step forward for womens health

AMHERST  Close to 200 Cumberland County girls are among the first in Canada to receive a publicly-funded vaccination for the Human Papilloma Virus, the leading cause of cervical cancer.

The immunization of Grade 7 females started last week in Advocate, Springhill and Oxford and is continuing this week at other county schools.

The HPV vaccine moves womens health forward significantly and is a major tool in the fight against cervical cancer, nurse practitioner Darla MacPherson, manager of public health services, said.

The vaccine will be offered in three doses over the next six months as part of Nova Scotias school-based vaccination program. Like all public health vaccinations, the HPV vaccine is not mandatory and requires parental consent.

HPV, which causes genital warts and cervical cancer, is a common virus transmitted through sexual activity. Most infections go away on their own but some types cause persistent infection which leads to cervical cancer. HPV causes almost all cervical cancers with about 1,350 Canadian women being diagnosed this year while about 400 will die. Nova Scotia has among the highest incidence of invasive cervical cancer in Canada.

There are other ways to lower your risk of exposure to HPV, like delaying sexual activity for the young and by limiting the number of sexual partners you have. It is still very important to have regular PAP tests for those who are sexually active, communicable disease prevention and control nurse Jacki Beal said. Condoms offer limited protection from HPV. The virus may be present where the condom does not cover, so all sexual activity, not just intercourse puts you at risk.

Beal said the program has been well received to date with only the average number of parents refusing the vaccine for their children. She said there have been more calls from parents wanting the vaccine for their older daughters along with some requesting it for their sons. There is presently no HPV vaccine for boys.



dcole@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Nova Scotias school

Geographic location: Canada, Cumberland County, Oxford Nova Scotia

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