In the spirit of HPV awareness day celebrated on 4 March, here are some facts about the human papillomavirus, the illnesses it is linked to and its prevention through vaccination.
Did you know:
70-80% of people are infected with a human papillomavirus or HPV during their lifetime.
HPV spreads from human to human through skin-to-skin and mucous membrane contact.
The most common HPV-related cancer types are cervical cancer, anal cancer and oropharyngeal cancer.
35% of all women aged 20-25 are infected with a high-risk type of HPV which may cause cancer.
HPV is to blame for nearly 100% of cases of cervical cancer.
In Estonia, 170-180 women develop cervical cancer every year and on average 65 women die as a result.
Vaccination against HPV helps prevent infection with high-risk HPV and avoid certain HPV-related illnesses.
Vaccination against HPV is most effective before coming into contact with the virus and is recommended primarily for young women and men aged 9-26.
As a preventive measure against cervical cancer, 12-year-old girls receive the HPV vaccination free of charge as part of the national vaccination plan. This prevents permanent HPV infections and the precancerous conditions and tumours caused by HPV in 85-95% of cases.
This vaccine has been used for over a decade elsewhere in the word and its effect is obvious – cervical changes caused by HPV have reduced significantly.