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Girls to get HPV shots in October

By Flavia Nassaka

Owing to the increasing cases of cancer caused by the Human papillomavirus (HPV), the Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) is set to start vaccinating girls aged between 9 and 13 against the deadly virus.

The first batch of girls will be vaccinated in October, UCI’s Dr. Noleb Mugisha told journalists during the launch of the annual Acacia Mall family medical camp held at Acacia Mall roof top on Aug. 06.

The sexually transmitted HPV is responsible for cervical cancer among women and some cancers of the head and neck which mostly affect the throat, larynx (voice box), nose and mouth.  Mugisha said cases of both cancers are on the increase whereby cervical is the most commonly diagnosed whereas at least fifteen new cases of head and neck cancers are recorded every week at the institute.

“Though it’s common among aging women, sometimes girls as young as fifteen report to the institute with cervical cancer”, he explains.

The doctor said females above 13 years can also be vaccinated against the virus to reduce one’s chances of getting the cancer since all women who are sexually active can be at risk. He however encouraged people to always go for wellness checkups since once detected early, all kinds of cancers can be cured.

The camp scheduled to take place from Aug 21 to 23 at Acacia Mall will enable people consult experts and also screen for cancer and heart disease for free.

However, because of vaccination and early detection, in the developed world, cases of HPV induced cancers are steadily reducing whereby currently over 80% of all cervical cancers are recorded in developing countries.  In fact the world Health Organization (WHO) figures indicate that  cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women living in less developed regions with an estimated 445 000 new cases in 2012.

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