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HPV, Cervical Cancer and Vaccination are related terms but did you know that HPV is the major cause of cancers related to genitals worldwide, with cervical cancer being the leading cancer – related deaths in women?

A recent study discovered that women in the African continent were significantly affected by cervical cancer. It has a larger percentage and related higher death rates than women in other world regions.

Well, First of all,what is HPV?

HPV stands for human papillomavirus. It’s the most common sexually transmitted infection. The virus is normally harmless and disappears on its own, but certain kinds might cause cancer or genital warts.

Cancer: We dread the word. Most of us avoid thinking about it. We are usually busy with work and other things that we rarely have time to think about our health.

“Please pay attention to your health—for you and the people who care about you,” Cote de pablo.

Good news is there is a HPV vaccination that protects against HPV types 16 and 18.These HPV types are responsible for almost 70% of cervical cancer occurrences.Cervical cancer can be prevented using screening tests and the HPV vaccination. Cervical cancer is largely treated when detected early, and it is connected with extended longevity and a great quality of life.

However, It is important to note that the Vaccination is most effective in early adolescence, before sexual debut and probable HPV infection. According to research, children who grow up in low-income neighborhoods are more likely to engage in sexual behavior at a young age.

We spoke to Dr. Helena Musau, a radiation oncologist in Nairobi to shed some light on HPV,Cervical Cancer and Vaccination.Some of her comments are listed below.

Who is at a higher risk of developing cervical cancer?

All women are at risk for cervical cancer. However,Cervical cancer can affect everyone who has a cervix. Women, trans males, non-binary persons, and intersex people with cervixes are all included.If you’ve undergone surgery to remove your womb and cervix, you can’t have cervical cancer (total hysterectomy).

Cervical cancer is more common in women over the age of 30. 

What causes Cervical Cancer?

The cancer is caused by a long-term infection with particular forms of human papillomavirus (HPV), Dr. Helena Musau.HPV is a common virus that is spread from person to person through intercourse.

HPV may also be transmitted from:

  • any genital area skin-to-skin contact.
  • Sharing sex toys

Cervical cancer is a deadly disease that develops in the cells of the cervix, which links the uterus to the vagina.It damages the womb’s neck and is caused by the formation of abnormal cells in the cervical lining.According to the World Health Organization, 33 per 100,000 Kenyan women have cervical cancer, and 22 per 100,000 die from the illness.

At least half of all sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their life, although only a small percentage of women will develop cervical cancer.

What are the Signs of Cervical cancer?

 Here is what to look out for:

Cervical cancer may not cause symptoms early on. This is the reason why screening is important. However, advanced cervical cancer may result in abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, such as bleeding after intercourse. Consult your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms. They might be caused by something other than cancer, but only a doctor can tell you.

 How do you Reduce risks of developing cervical cancer?

The most crucial thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to have frequent screening tests.

HPV vaccination.

Human papillomavirus vaccinations are vaccines that protect against infection with certain varieties of the human papillomavirus. HPV vaccinations are offered to protect against two, four, or nine different forms of HPV. All HPV vaccinations protect against at least HPV types 16 and 18, which are responsible for the majority of cervical cancer cases.

Cancer Injection

The HPV vaccination protects against HPV-related cancers such as:

  • cervical cancer
  • some mouth and throat (head and neck) cancers
  • some cancers of the anal and genital areas
  • genital warts.

It is important to note that the HPV vaccine protects against new infections but does not treat existing infections or illnesses,Says Dr. Helena Musau. This is why the HPV vaccination works best when administered prior to any HPV exposure. Even if you had an HPV vaccine, you should have frequent cervical cancer screenings.

HPV vaccinations have been used in the Kenyan private sector since 2006. However,The HPV vaccination is not yet authorized for use in female patients under the age of 9 or over the age of 26, or in male patients.

Pap Test

A Pap smear test can identify cervical cancer and pre-cancer abnormalities. Your doctor or nurse will use a little brush is to gently remove cells from the surface of the cervix and the surrounding region. They may then be examined under a microscope for cervical cancer or cell changes that may develop to cervical cancer. The doctor will also do a test for a virus known as human papillomavirus, depending on your age (HPV).

What is a Pap smear and how often do I need one? - Tufts Medical Center  Community Care
vaginal speculum to hold your vaginal walls apart and to see the cervix

A screening test is not painful and can give life-saving information. Kenya’s government has been implementing countrywide screening initiatives for cervical cancer on a regular basis.

Remember the last time you went for a pap smear?

Pap smears are recommended every three years for women aged 25 to 64. However, HIV-positive women are recommended to undergo the procedure every year.

Women living with HIV have a substantially increased risk for cervical cancer when compared to women without HIV infection,” Dr. Helena comments. Therefore it is important for them to be extra cautious when it comes to HPV,Cervical Cancer and Vaccination.

Immune suppression in HIV-positive women increases the risk of cervical cancer returning after treatment.

Cervical Cancer Treatment

If your doctor diagnoses you have cervical cancer, get a referral to a gynecologic oncologist—a specialist who specializes in cancers of the female reproductive system. This doctor should work with you to develop a treatment plan..

More Preventive Measures for Cervical Cancer

These factors may also help reduce your risk of cervical cancer—

  • Avoid Smoking.
  • Use condoms when having sex.
  • Limit the amount of sexual partners you have.

HPV infection can occur in both male and female genital regions covered or protected by a latex condom, as well as unprotected areas. While the effectiveness of condoms in preventing HPV infection is uncertain, condom usage has been linked to a decreased incidence of cervical cancer.

There are low-cost screening tests available to detect pre-cancer lesions, as well as effective, safe, and cheap pre-cancer therapy, preventing the development of cancer in women. HPV, Cervical Cancer and Vaccination Awareness should be taken seriously by everyone in order to prevent these cancer-related deaths.

Cervical Cancer Could Be Eliminated in the US Within Two Decades
Cervical cancer awareness

“The HPV vaccination is not new and has undergone the necessary study by the WHO; thus, I would like to encourage all Kenyans to refrain from sensationalizing this important subject.”

At a recent media briefing in Nairobi, Dr. Rose Jalang’o of the National Vaccines and Immunization Programme stated that no government, anywhere in the world, would jeopardize the health of its citizens by introducing a countrywide initiative that has not undergone the necessary research and peer review. We are all working together to save as many women as possible from this dreadful disease.

 Key Points.

  • HPV stands for human papillomavirus and It’s the most common sexually transmitted infection.
  • It is the major cause of cervical cancer.
  • The virus is normally harmless and disappears on its own, but certain kinds might cause cancer or genital warts.
  • There is a HPV vaccination that protects against HPV types 16 and 18.
  • HPV vaccination is most effective in early adolescence, before sexual debut and probable HPV infection.
  • Cervical cancer can affect everyone who has a cervix. Women, trans males, non-binary persons, and intersex people with cervixes.
  • Cervical cancer is better treated when detected early, so it is important to go for screening from time to time.
  • Cervical cancer may not cause symptoms early on but advanced cervical cancer may result in abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, such as bleeding after intercourse.
  • The most crucial thing you can do to help prevent cervical cancer is to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to have frequent screening tests.
  • HPV vaccine protects against new infections but does not treat existing infections or illnesses.
  • Pap smears are recommended every three years for women aged 25 to 64. However, women with HIV should undergo the procedure every year.
  • Avoid Smoking, Use condoms when having sex and Limit the amount of sexual partners you have to reduce your risk of cervical cancer.

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