HPV vaccines for South Africa: coming to a school near you!

From The Independent Online:

HPV and cervical cancer: courtesy Russell Kightley Media

HPV and cervical cancer: courtesy Russell Kightley Media

“Cape Town – Government will start administering cervical cancer vaccines in schools from February next year, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has announced.

Speaking during the health budget vote debate in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Motsoaledi said government hoped to negotiate lower prices for the vaccine, which treats the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – the major cause of cervical cancer among women.

Quoting experts, he said cervical cancer affected 6000 South African women a year, 80 percent of them black. More than half the women affected died of the disease.

While the HPV vaccine presented an opportunity to prevent women from contracting cancer, there were still obstacles to overcome.”

This is a really, really big deal for South Africans – and pity is, the vaccine will not be given to boys, or universally to girls.

Seriously: all the science says that giving it to boys as well limits spread of the viruses far better; not making it universally available will mean all sorts of recriminations around unequal access (read: to less privileged kids ONLY as part of the government programme at first).

But a big step in the right direction!

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