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HPV vaccination being offered again

The Ontario government will offer the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil to about 84,000 girls in Ontario schools once again this fall.

The school-based vaccination program is aimed at protecting young women against cervical cancer.

HPV infection is very common. It is estimated 75 percent of sexually-active Canadians will have at least one HPV infection during their lifetime, with the highest prevalence observed in women aged 20-24.

HPV can be passed from one person to another through skin contact that occurs during sexual activity.

A person with HPV infection may or may not be aware of this infection because there often are no symptoms.

However, even with no symptoms, one can pass the infection to a sexual partner.

Some infected individuals will develop genital warts, which are cauliflower-like growths, cervical abnormalities, cervical cancer, and other genital cancers.

There are more than 130 HPV types. HPV types 6, 11, 16, and 18 are common.

In Canada, types 6 and 11 cause 90 percent of genital warts while types 16 and 18 cause 70 percent of cervical cancer.

The body’s immune system will fight off an HPV infection and most infections go away on their own over time.

There are treatments available through your family doctor for certain types of HPV, such as those that cause genital warts.

The Gardasil vaccine protects against four types (6, 11, 16, and 18) of HPV infections. The 2010-11 HPV vaccination program offers free vaccine to females in Grade 8.

Although participation in the HPV vaccination program is voluntary, it is strongly recommended all eligible young women in Grade 8 receive this vaccine.

Public health nurses will give students three injections over a six-month period, beginning in late September or early October.

The vaccine is almost 100 percent effective against the four HPV strains, and also is very safe and well-tolerated.

Parents, students, and the general public who have any questions may contact their local Northwestern Health Unit or visit ww.nwhu.on.ca

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