Nakuru County Government, in collaboration with the Education Ministry and the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), has launched a drive aimed at raising awareness about the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and enhance vaccination uptake among 10-year-old girls against HPV in the County, said to be the major cause of cervical cancer.
Speaking during the launch, The County Nursing officer, Wendy Tirop, said at least 5,200 women in the country are diagnosed with cervical cancer annually with more than 2,000 dying from the disease.
She said the county government was committed to changing the trends through the enhancement of public health services and ensuring that teachers and students are knowledgeable about HPV issues.
At the Same time, Tirop said that the HPV vaccination was most effective when administered to girls before they are sexually active and has a probability of preventing the disease by 90 per cent, as she bashed off the misinformation surrounding the HPV vaccine.
“The vaccine targets the HPV sub types, which are accountable for more than 70 per cent of cervical cancers.
Many might not see the immediate effect of the vaccine, so that is why they might procrastinate.
We are exploring a number of strategies and creating awareness to make people care about the benefits,” she noted.
She warned that while HPV infection is cleared away naturally by the immune system of some people, in others the virus could persist and cause cervical cancer within a number of years if no early interventions are taken.
“In HIV-positive women, it takes even less time for the virus to cause cervical cancer.
HPV also causes non-cancerous, nipple-like bumps called warts on the skin in the genital area or in other parts of the body, as well as ulcerations.
She explained that the ulcerations may make women more vulnerable to other STIs, such as HIV.
Tirop noted that unlike other STIs, HPV infection causes havoc silently, adding that it does not produce any symptoms until in its advanced stages, when it has caused cervical cancer.
She said men often carry the virus and transmit it to women during sex, while in men the infection is often linked to penile, anal, and throat cancers, though cases are still rare in Kenya.
As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), the deadly virus, which has no cure yet and is spread through vaginal, oral, and anal sex, has become so common that nearly all sexually active women get it at some point in their lives.
The screening can be done using a Pap smear or Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA).
The two methods check if the virus has caused any abnormal changes in the cervix associated with cervical cancer and give early treatment before it becomes full-blown cancer.
Cervical cancer is currently ranked as the second-most common cancer among women in the country.
It is also ranked as the most common cancer among women aged between 15 and 44 years.
By Vostine Ratemo
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