Nurses visit Falkirk schools to highlight HPV cancer risks

NHS Forth Valley immunisation nurses are visiting secondary schools across the area to raise awareness of the forthcoming national HPV – human papillomavirus – vaccinationprogramme for boys and girls.

Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 2:37 pm

This is the first year in Scotland boys will be eligible for the vaccine, which protects against two of the HPV subtypes which cause over 75 per cent of cervical cancers and two other HPV subtypes are associated with 90 per cent of genital warts.

NHS Forth Valley Consultant in Public Health Medicine, Dr Henry Prempeh, said: “This vaccine has been shown to provide long-term protection against the common sexually transmitted virus known to cause head and neck cancers, cervical and penile cancers and genital warts.

“It is particularly important to have this protection in place before young people become sexually active and this is an opportunity for parents to ensure that their child is protected from developing a range of HPV related cancers in later life.”

HPV is a common sexually transmitted virus which can be caught through any kind of sexual contact with another person who already has it. Around four in five people in Scotland are likely to catch HPV before they are 25.

People are often infected with HPV without knowing it as there are usually no symptoms and they can therefore unknowingly pass the virus on to others. Most people who become infected with HPV clear the virus from their body, but others may develop a range of cancers in later life.

These include head and neck cancers which are more common in men.

Public Health Minister, Joe Fitzpatrick, said: “I am proud Scotland will now offer the HPV vaccination to boys in S1. Evidence has shown high uptake of the HPV vaccine amongst girls, which was first introduced in 2008, has reduced levels of cancer-causing HPV in young women in Scotland by 90 per cent.

“Extending the vaccination to S1 boys will help to further reduce diagnoses of HPV related cancers and save lives in years to come. I would encourage all those who are eligible to take up the offer of vaccination.”

All secondary schools in Forth Valley have been contacted and dates arranged for vaccination sessions for the S1 year group. These will begin in February 2020 and parents will be notified with details in advance of the sessions.

Visit www.nhsinform.scot/campaigns/hpv for more information.