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04th Feb 2019

Myths about the HPV vaccine continue to put people’s lives at risk

Jade Hayden

hpv vaccine

Myths about the HPV vaccine are continuing to put people’s lives at risk, the IARC has said.

According to International Agency for Research on Cancer, unfounded rumours about the vaccine are still stopping people from getting it, impeding the fight against cervical cancer around the world.

Over half a million (570,000) new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed last year. It is the fourth most common cancer for women globally.

To mark this year’s World Cancer Day, the IARC issued a statement endorsing the World Health Organisation’s position that the HPV vaccine is “safe, efficacious, and critical in the fight against cervical cancer.”

“Unfounded rumours about HPV vaccines continue to unnecessarily delay or impede the scaling up of vaccination, which is so urgently needed to prevent cervical cancer,” says IARC Director Dr Elisabete Weiderpass.

“To mark World Cancer Day 2019, IARC reiterates its commitment to fight the disease and unequivocally confirms the efficacy and safety of HPV vaccination.”

The IARC said that if the myths and rumours surrounding the vaccine are not rejected, deaths caused by cervical cancer could increase to 460,00 per year in 2040.

This is almost a 50 percent increase in the estimated deaths due to cervical cancer recorded in 2018 – the vast majority of which were in low and middle income countries.

The HPV vaccine is currently given to girls in Ireland in their first year of secondary school.

It was agreed that the programme would be extended to boys in 2019 due to the “considerable health benefits” associated with the vaccine.

HPV is most commonly associated with cervical cancer in women, but the infection can also cause penile, anal and oropharyngeal cancers in men.