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HPV jab said to be 'safe and effective'

10 May 2018 09:29

Most women aged 15 to 25 years in the UK have now received the HPV vaccine

Most women aged 15 to 25 years in the UK have now received the HPV vaccine

The HPV vaccine offered to teenage girls has proved to be safe and effective in preventing the virus that causes cervical cancer, an independent review has revealed.

Experts are reassuring parents considering having their daughters immunised against the virus that it is a straight-forward and effective procedure. Side-effects following the vaccine were also rare, the review found.

This is in response to campaigners who maintain the vaccine can be harmful and needs to be explored more fully.

'Most effective' prevention

The HPV vaccine is the "most effective way for young girls to protect themselves against cervical cancer," according to Mary Ramsay, head of immunisations at Public Health England.

"Most women aged 15 to 25 years in the UK have now received the HPV vaccine," she said. The vaccine is currently available for girls aged between 12 and 18 from the NHS.

The vaccine prevents infection by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which can cause abnormal changes to the cells of the cervix or neck of the womb that, if left untreated, can lead to cancer.

Robert Music, from Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said although uptake of the vaccine in the UK is high, it is slipping.

"We cannot afford to get complacent. We must strive to reduce the myths and stigma around the vaccine."

Very common

The HPV virus is extremely common, and as there aren't any symptoms, people often don't know they're infected.

The virus can be spread by sexual contact. In most cases it goes away on its own, but some of the higher risk strains cannot be cleared and may lead to cancer.

HPV can also cause oral, anal and penile cancer. In some countries, the HPV jab is also routinely offered to teenage boys, to protect them and their future partners.

The NHS currently does not offer the vaccine to boys, nor women over the age of 18, as the jab should be given before someone has come into contact with the virus.

All women over the age of 25 should still attend regular smear tests even if they have been immunised.

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