THE health ministry will begin a HPV vaccination programme against cervical cancer for all 12-year-old girls from 2016, a representative of the ministry said yesterday during a news conference to mark World Cancer Day.
Cervical cancer, the second most common cancer among women worldwide after breast cancer, is also the only cancer for which a vaccine is available.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cervical cancer is one of the world’s deadliest, but most easily preventable, forms of cancer for women, responsible for more than 270,000 deaths annually.
It is not hereditary and can be caused by infection by the human papillomavirus (HPV), usually transmitted by sexual contact (vaginal, anal or oral) from one person to another.
Two HPV vaccines, given in three doses over a period of six months, protect against two of the genotypes causing 70 per cent of all cervical cancers.
Until late 2013, only about 15 per cent of girls and women in Cyprus had been vaccinated, because it is expensive, a factor that prevented the state from including the HPV vaccine in its free vaccination programmes. It urged the Cyprus paediatric society last year to ask for a price reduction.
Anti-cancer association PASYKAF, which has launched a campaign against cervical cancer, has to date given 550 free vaccines and said they would continue to offer free vaccines to the public in all areas under terms and conditions.
By the end of 2012, 45 mostly developed countries, had introduced HPV vaccination, the WHO said.