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Posts Tagged ‘cervical smears’

10 reasons you should have the HPV vaccine

Posted by hannahflynn on October 1, 2009

Following the tragic death of a fourteen year-old girl just two hours after receiving the HPV vaccine as part of the UK’s policy to vaccinate all girls under 18, the media has been awash with confused stories regarding the safety of the jab.

The first stages of the postmortem showed she had an underlying health problem, most likely a heart defect which would commonly present for the first time at this age, which was the cause of her sudden death.

However, when the story broke, before the first results from the postmortem became available the media insinuated the HPV vaccine may have caused in her death. 

It is important we do not have a vaccination scare on the scale of the MMR, and young girls (and perhaps their families) are comfortable receiving this potentially life saving jab.

Therefore, here are ten reasons you should have the HPV vaccine:

1. It protects against the two types of HPV which cause 70% of cervical cancers.

2. Women have, on average, a 1.6% chance of developing cervical cancer in their life time; there is less than a 1 in a million chance of severe anaphylaxis due to this vaccine (3).

3. Cervical cancer kills 1,000 women every year in the UK. It is thought the vaccination programme could save 400 of them.

4. The risks are low. All vaccines carry risk, but the HPV vaccine has shown few contraindications. The most common side effect is ‘sore arm’.

5. 50% of sexually active women contract HPV by the time they are 30 .

6. Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise which can increase your susceptibility to HPV and increase your risk of cervical cancer up to six times (1). For example, women who also have genital herpes are more likely to get more invasive forms of cervical cancer (2).

7. Cancer is a killer, but not only that. Treatment for cervical cancer can include surgery and chemotherapy which can leave you infertile, or with difficulty conceiving. This has happened to many women in their twenties.

8. We need as many people as possible to be vaccinated in order to reduce the prevalence of HPV in the population. Normally, vaccination programmes require 80% of the whole population (men included) to be vaccinated in order to eliminate a disease.

9. Promiscuity alone does not cause cervical cancer, as one third of women with only one sexual partner contract HPV within one year. As previously mentioned, 50% of women have been exposed to HPV by the time they are 30.

10. The NHS (and many other health authorities) have emphasised the importance of, and have promised to continue cervical screening. But there is no reason to not use belt and braces girls!

1. P Koskela, T Anttila, T Bjørge, A Brunsvig. (2000). Chlamydia trachomatis infection as a risk factor for invasive cervical cancer.International journal of cancer.
2. 2003. Cervical cancer risk rises if women with HPV also have herpes infection. International Family Planning Perspectives
3.  D. Cooper, (2007). Determinants of sexual activity and its relation to cervical cancer risk among South African Women. BMC Public Health

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Stonewall poster campaign highlights lesbian health issues

Posted by hannahflynn on September 16, 2009

Gay rights group Stonewall has launched a new poster campaign with the Department of Health encouraging lesbian and bisexual women to take better care of themselves.

The move follows the results of ‘Prescription for Change’, the first major survey ever conducted into lesbian and bisexual women’s health in Britain, which has revealed half of the UK’s 1.8 million lesbians report a recent negative NHS experience. The Stonewall research used over 6,000 lesbian and bisexual women in the study.

Stonewall has developed the slogan ‘Love your inner lesbian’ which is going to accompany the campaign. The research, released last year, found deeply disturbing levels of self-harm, substance abuse and exclusion from routine testing for cervical cancer.

The survey also found lesbian and bisexual women are reluctant to be honest about their sexual orientation when talking to doctors. The poster campaign which will hit healthcare centres and clinics soon, aims to encourage women to talk frankly to their doctors about their healthcare needs.A series of posters is now been available depicting the slogan, as well as key statistics from the report – including smear testing, lesbian parenting, mental health issues and drink and drug habits.

The lack of attendance to cervical screening by lesbian and bisexual women is worrying considering the increasing trend for sexually transmitted diseases which can lead to the development of abnormalities on the cervix which can lead to cancer. However, 30% of cervical cancers  occur without pre-exposure to HPV; a cancer causing virus, meaning groups which are not in a high risk group for HPV, Chlamydia and gonorrohea i.e lesbian women, are still at risk of developing the disease. The report suggested their is an increased cost in treating lesbian and bisexual women who usually present with a disease later than their heterosexual peers.

One of the recommendations of the report is to make lesbian health issues more visible so women are more comfortable discussing them with a doctor.

Source: Utalkmarketing.com

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Controversy over effectiveness of HPV screening with cervical smears

Posted by hannahflynn on June 22, 2009

Controversy over the effectiveness of HPV screening in addition to basic cervical smear testing has been reported by Pulse magazine today.

Currently, cervical screening involves liquid-based cytography to detect abnormalities on the cervix. This, according to Professor Henry Kitchener’s lab at The University of Manchester is adequate for effective screening which currently prevents 70 percent of cervical cancer cases in this country alone.

He claims HPV screening alongside cervical smears is no more effective than liquid-based cytography tests alone. HPV is a virus which can cause cervical cancer.

However, Professor Jack Cuzick claims in Pulse magazine that, “‘I think this study has some major issues. About another dozen studies show HPV results are better, and all other literature contradicts the results of this study.’

The University of Manchester study will continue for another three years in order to investigate if HPV testing could results in a need for fewer cervical smear tests for women in this country.

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