By Caribbean Medical News Staff

The advertisements are being run often in Barbados as the Ministry of Health attempts to ramp up awareness on television and radio of the prevention of cervical cancer through the use of the “controversial” HPV vaccine.

The Barbados Cancer Society and the Ministry of Health have long been waging the war against breast cancer and other cancers, asking the general public to be screened at age appropriate times and the HPV Vaccine should come on stream soon. According to the Minister of Health, the Hon. John Boyce, the HPV vaccine should be available in Barbados early next year. It is a well-documented fact that developing countries see more patients with cervical cancer but Dr. Dorothy Cooke-Johnson of the Barbados Cancer society says better screening has improved the situation in Barbados a great deal.

There are currently two HPV vaccines available that protect against the HPV infections, which can cause cervical cancer – Gardasil and Cervarix. The recommendation is that two doses be given to a female starting from as young and age as (11) eleven years old and then again around the age of (26) twenty-six. The HPV manifests itself in many different strains but it is its link to cervical cancer, perhaps the most preventable of all cancers that has struck a cord with the medical community worldwide which wishes to see the presentation of cervical cancers drop dramatically.

Cervical cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the fourth leading cause of cancer death in females worldwide, accounting for 9% (529,800) of the total new cancer cases and 8%  (275,100) of the total cancer deaths among females in 2008 More than 85% of these cases and deaths occur in developing countries, according to the 2011 Global Cancer statistics.

However, some parents and other individuals are not sure about the efficacy of the HPV vaccine and whether they should subject their daughters to the vaccination and were also concerned about side effects. A few years ago there was much controversy in the United States based on the perception that it encouraged sexual activity, that the girls were too young and that there was no evidence to show that a vaccination against the human papilloma virus could entirely protect a young woman from cervical cancer.

New research in the Journal Cancer Prevention Research , however, suggests that the new vaccine is effective in preventing HPV. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States 79 million people are infected with HPV and 14 million are infected annually with cervical cancer. Research has indicated that only thirty-four percent (34%) of most women and girls had in fact been vaccinated in the last few years in the United States.

According to researchers persistent strains of HPV can lead to cervical cancer. Despite this immunizations were still dropping by at least ten percent annually according to the CDC in a 2008-2010 survey.

Recent press reports have alarmed some British parents and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) there has been keeping a watchful eye on teenage girls who had been vaccinated one of whom developed chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). There has been no link established however between HPV and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome though the teenaged girls is reported to have developed CFS post her third HPV vaccination. The CDC and NHS along with world medical bodies maintain that the HPV vaccine is extremely safe.

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