An HPV-FREE future - is that possible?

More and more women are now being affected by the so-called HPV. Although the case is arising as time goes by, still many are not aware of it, worse some doesn't really care.

In line with the Cervical Cancer Awareness Month this May, MSD Philippines - a leading pharmaceutical company in the country -  spearheaded a timely dialogue on the disease by focusing on HPV or the human papilloma virus - the primary cause of cervical cancer.

With the theme “An HPV-Free Future,” MSD organized its own commemoration of this year’s Cervical Cancer Awareness Month at the New World Makati Hotel, where expert medical professionals and special guest speakers formed a multi-sectoral panel who discussed in an intimate setting the issues concerning this healthcare situation today.

The panelists were Dr. Ma. Cristina Crisologo, Medical Adviser for Vaccines, MSD in the Phils. Dr. May Montellano, Past President of Phil. Foundation for Vaccination and Adviser of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society of the Phils. (PIDSP) and Dr. Ricardo Manalastas (Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medicine, PGH, UP Manila.

What many people don’t know is that HPV also causes a number of other diseases and malignancies, such as genital warts, and anal, vaginal and penile cancer. Thus, it is important for the discussion to take on a wider perspective from cervical cancer alone.

Here are some valuable information that was shared during the event:

Cervical cancer, the number 2 cancer killer among Filipina women; is a cancer arising from the cervix which is due to the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body.  Early on, typically no symptoms are visible but later symptoms may include abnormal vaginal bleeding, pelvic pain, or pain during sexual intercourse.

Cervical cancer remains to be among the major concerns in the Philippine healthcare, but with great strides that have already been accomplished in terms of disease awareness and prevention through vaccination, it could be said that it is no longer as daunting as it was years ago.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection causes more than 90% of cases;(most people who have had HPV infections, however, do not develop cervical cancer). HPV types 16 and 18 are the cause of 75% of cervical cancer cases globally, while 31 and 45 are the causes of another 10%.

HPV vaccines range from 7000 to 8000 pesos per shot, that protects you from 9 HPV strains. Number of shots depends on the age of the patient.

The duration or efficacy of the vaccine is 15 years and counting. No need for booster shots.

 HPV vaccine can be given to kids as young as 10 years old.

Men are the perpetrators of HPV thus, they should take the vaccine too.

An HPV-Free Future

According to Dr. Ma. Cristina Crisologo, doctors and scientists have also been able to gain a wider perspective on the battle against cervical cancer. She said that "After years of successfully confronting cervical cancer, we now know the deeper and more important issue to focus on, and that is HPV. "

One such important message is the good news that continuous advancements in vaccine technology has led to wider coverage of HPV strains, and thus the protection against a wider range of HPV infections and cancers.

With the proper information dissemination to the public and with the joint efforts from the NGO's and the government of the country in raising awareness and prevention about the disease, an HPV-free future is possible and feasible. We can all work together to fight HPV!

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