Claim HPV vaccine causes infertility in women false – Public health expert
Public health specialist and the Head of the Human Papillomavirus Programme at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Emily Kobayashi, talks to LARA ADEJORO about the safety and efficacy of the human papillomavirus vaccine
Can you provide an overview of the human papillomavirus and the diseases it can cause?
Human papillomavirus is the name of a very common group of viruses and they have been associated with several different illnesses, including genital warts as well as cancers, including cervical, anal, vaginal, vulvar, penile, and throat cancers.
How does cervical cancer impact Nigerian women?
Cervical cancer is the cancer of the cervix. It tends to affect women aged 35 to 55. It is a very painful and difficult cancer. HPV infects cells in the cervix, which is the lower part of the womb, and changes the way that they communicate with each other and the way they replicate; in some people the infected cells multiply in an uncontrolled manner, leading to cancer. To be effectively treated, it requires a combination of medications, treatment with radiotherapy, and surgery, and it is often fatal. It is estimated that 8,000 Nigerian women die yearly and it is the second most common cancer in women in Nigeria. It is a very common cancer; it is a horrible condition. I am inspired by the survival of cervical cancer in Nigerian women who share their stories and their struggles and we have to prevent this illness. With the HPV vaccine becoming available, everybody has the opportunity to prevent this illness in the future.
What is the significance of the HPV vaccine in preventing HPV-related diseases?
The HPV vaccine has been shown to be 90 per cent effective in preventing cervical cancer, and this also has a herd immunity effect, which means that even people who have not been vaccinated can be protected by the fact that others have been vaccinated. In countries that have introduced the HPV vaccine, what they have seen is that for the girls and boys who have received the vaccine, the rate of HPV has gone down to definitely 90 per cent or more, and what they have also seen is that the rate of HPV in people of the same age who did not receive the vaccine has gone down by 60 per cent or 70 per cent; that is the protective effect of herd immunity.