South African schoolgirls to get HPV immunisation

Yesterday, President Zuma made the announcement that primary school girls would be immunised this year against the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – which is strongly linked to the development of cervical cancer.

According Zuma, vaccination teams from the Department of Health will visit schools twice a year to ensure that each child receives two doses of the HPV vaccine. Girls between the ages of nine and 12 years will be targeted for the programme.

HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause genital warts. It’s transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, particularly through unprotected vaginal and oral sex, and is very contagious. The biggest problem with the virus is that, specifically in men, there are often no visible symptoms.

HPV is linked to the development of certain cancers, depending on which area of the body is infected. It’s more common for women to develop cervical cancer, caused by HPV, than it is for men to develop penile cancer, due to the virus. It’s also possible to develop throat cancer from HPV, if the infection is transmitted through oral sex.

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