January is World Cervical Cancer Awareness Month and is a global event that aims to raise awareness about cervical cancer. According to the World Health Organization, “Cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix (the entrance to the uterus from the vagina). Almost all cervical cancer cases (99%) are associated with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The most common virus is transmitted through sexual contact. Although most HPV infections resolve spontaneously and cause no symptoms, persistent infection can lead to cervical cancer in women.” Dr. Krishnaveni Nayini, Senior Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad, talks about HPV, vaccination requirements and more.
What is human papillomavirus and how is it passed?
Dr. Krishnaveni Nayini says, “Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common virus. HPV can be easily spread between partners during any sexual activity. Most sexually active men and women will be exposed to HPV at some point. Live and within a few months of their The body will clear the virus on its own (as happens with other viruses like colds and flu). Genital HPV is spread during sexual activity, including vaginal and anal sex, oral sex, and low-risk non-penetrative sex.”
Often an HPV infection clears up within two years, and it’s only when it’s present in a small number of women that it can develop into precancerous cells called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), Dr. Naini said. “It’s important to remember that very few women with these changes develop cervical cancer. It’s not clear why persistent HPV infection causes more problems in some women than in others.”
HPV vaccination: how effective it is
“The HPV vaccine helps prevent HPV-related cancers in boys and girls. Although most types of HPV are harmless, some high-risk types can lead to the development of cancer, including cervical cancer, head and neck cancer (mouth and throat), and rectal cancer. and genital cancer,” said Dr. Naini.
WHO states on its website, “Despite being a preventable and curable disease, cervical cancer is a major burden for women worldwide, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. For girls and women to uphold their right to adolescent health, it is important that high quality Disparities in access to health services are addressed.”
According to doctors, vaccination should be given between the ages of 9 and 12, before first intercourse, said Dr Pramod Kumar Jhulka, senior director of medical oncology at Max Institute of Cancer Care, Lajpat Nagar. “Earlier, we used to say the vaccine should be taken before marriage. But changing times and social habits mean that it is better to take the vaccine before first intercourse.”