Monday, April 14, 2008
We support a move to roll-out a national vaccination programme to prevent cervical cancer and welcome recent media reports that a decision on the programme is imminent.
Our chief executive Jackie Edmond says criticism of the proposed programme is focussing on the fact that the virus is sexually transmitted.
“If we had a vaccine against any other cancer type we would be embracing it totally. We need to get over the mode of transmission and celebrate the fact that we have a vaccine to not just fight this disease but to prevent it occurring at all in a significant number of women,” Ms Edmond says.
“Women become infected with the HPV virus very early in their sex lives. Cervical cancer is not a disease caused by promiscuity, it is a disease caused by being a sexual being. Best results are achieved by vaccinating young women before they become sexually active.
“A vaccination scheme, in tandem with ongoing cervical screening, gives women the best opportunity to protect themselves from a disease which claims the lives of around 66 New Zealand women each year and causes many others to have invasive surgeries and other procedures.”
Gardasil immunises against the two main strains of the sexually transmitted HPV types which are responsible for 70 per cent of cervical cancers. With this vaccine we have the potential to prevent 100 per cent of the cancers caused by HPV types 16 and 18 – the types that cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers and 100 per cent of the types 6 and 11 that cause 90 per cent of genital warts.
“The vaccine is a preventative – it works exactly the same as any other vaccine. The reality is that we have a vaccine that can prevent cancer – if there was a vaccine that had this efficacy for other cancers, we would not be having this debate. The fact that the virus responsible for this cancer is usually sexually transmitted, should not be allowed to cloud this medical breakthrough,” Ms Edmond says.
“Our overriding concern is that parents and caregivers understand that this vaccine can protect their young women against a significant and life-threatening disease. The vaccine is a medical response to a medical issue – as a developed country, New Zealand should be using every resource it has to keep its young people safe.”
The vaccine is currently available through our clinics nationwide at a cost of $450 for the three vaccinations required.
The move to introduce a national vaccination scheme would reduce the barrier of cost and allow all young women access to the vaccination programme.
Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.