HPV and Cervical Cancer: What You Need to Know

About 14 of the more than 100 serotypes of HPV have the potential to cause cancer.

Written By Vanessa Kariuki || 

Most sexually active women and men will contract the human papillomavirus (HPV) at some point in their lives, and some may do so frequently.

Even though penetrative sex is a necessary component for HPV transmission, it is not the only sexual method. The transmission method of skin-to-skin genital contact is well known.

HPV comes in a wide variety of forms, and many of them are not harmful.

Within a few months of acquisition, HPV infections normally go away on their own without any treatment, and 90% of cases do so within two years. Cervical cancer can develop in a tiny percentage of HPV infections that are caused by specific forms of HPV.

About 14 of the more than 100 serotypes of HPV have the potential to cause cancer.

The majority of oral and anogenital malignancies in both men and women are brought on by these high-risk, sexually transmitted viruses.

Warts on the skin and mucous membranes, including oropharyngeal and anogenital warts that are sexually transmitted, are caused by non-oncogenic kinds. Cervical carcinoma, one of the HPV-related diseases, is a major public health problem since it is the main cancer that kills women globally.

Over 5,000 new instances of cervical cancer and about 3,000 fatalities from its consequences were recorded in Kenya in 2020.

The promotion of condom usage, monogamous relationships, and abstinence are all key components of the comprehensive cancer control plan, and HPV vaccination is one of the main preventative measures.

The best time to get vaccinated is in the early adolescent years, before first sexual experience and potential HPV infection. According to studies, youngsters who grow up in low-income areas are more likely to start having sexual relations young.

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Teenagers have historically been excluded from many health interventions, so adolescent vaccination programs would give a way to connect other health promotion strategies aimed at this age group. In 2019, Kenya introduced the HPV vaccine to be given to 10-year-old girls.

Only 33% of the targeted demographic received the first dose, and only 16% of them returned for the second, resulting in subpar uptake.

While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted immunization programs, other factors, including as poor demand fueled by disinformation, have also played a role in the low coverage.

The HPV vaccine presents a great chance to connect young adolescents with preventive and promotion health care.

Worldwide immunization efforts are increasingly at risk from vaccine reluctance. The causes for the declining vaccine trust are highly context-specific, as they are in many other nations, including Kenya, thus they shouldn’t be approached in a consistent manner.

All vaccination stakeholders can learn from Kenya’s introduction of the HPV vaccine regarding how to ensure the successful uptake of new vaccines, particularly when a new cohort is involved.

To make immunization programs resilient and resist disruption, health leaders and policymakers must collaborate.