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HPV Affects Us All – Be Protected And Make It #OneLessWorry

HPV Affects Us All – Be Protected And Make It #OneLessWorry

Cervical cancer is a preventable disease thanks to regular screenings and availability of vaccines.

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Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the primary cause of cervical cancer. Despite being a preventable disease, cervical cancer ranks as the 4th most frequent cancer among women aged 15 to 44 in Malaysia.

In conjunction with the International HPV Awareness Day 2024 campaign led by the International Papillomavirus Society (IPVS), GSK is also committed to take a stand against HPV in Malaysia through collaborative efforts with various stakeholders.

International HPV awareness calls for the public to be educated about the infection and its associated cancers, which can be prevented through screening and vaccination, making it ‘One Less Worry’ for the world.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the primary cause of cervical cancer and the 4th most frequent cancer among women aged 15 to 44 in Malaysia. Image for illustration purposes. Image: Freepik

Dr. Alap Gandhi, Country Medical Director of GSK Malaysia said “Malaysia’s commitment to eliminating cervical cancer through its proactive pioneering initiatives are exemplary in the fight against this preventable disease. Since 2010, GSK has demonstrated its commitment to take a stand against HPV in Malaysia.”

Professor Dr. Jamiyah Hassan, Senior Consultant in O&G and Feto-Maternal Medicine, Hospital Al-Sultan Abdullah, UiTM Puncak Alam, Faculty of Medicine, UiTM Sg Buloh Campus said “Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women in Malaysia, and WHO has called for a global reduction of cervical cancer by 2030 to below 4 per 100,000 women.”

“Cervical cancer has a clear causation from the Human Papilloma Virus. With effective means for HPV prevention and a sensitive HPV screening test, cervical cancer stands out as a highly preventable disease.”

“Regular screening of the cervix for HPV infections is crucial for early detection of precancerous disease to allow early treatment to stop progression to advanced stages. Women must be empowered to take charge of their health and make informed choices about their well-being.”

What is HPV?

HPV is a group of viruses commonly related to sexually transmitted infections (STI). As there are over 150 HPV strains, everyone will become infected at some point in their lives, often without being aware of it.

While most infections aren’t harmful and typically resolve over time as the immune system controls the infection, some strains of HPV can cause health conditions, including skin warts on the hands, feet, and genitals, or even cancer if left untreated.

Who is at Risk?

Women who become sexually active at a young age, especially before age 18, or have multiple sexual partners are more likely to become infected with a high-risk type of HPV.

How to Stay Protected?

The development of cervical cancer from HPV infection typically follows a prolonged timeline often spanning between 10 to 15 years. Regular screenings and early detection play a crucial role in managing and preventing the mutation of cells.

Pap smears are recommended for women between the ages of 21 to 29 yearly for 2 years and then every three years. Following that, individuals up to the
age of 65 should be screened once every five years.

If HPV is detected during the tests or screening, specialists or pathologists will then use the same sample to assess the presence of abnormal cells. In cases where no abnormal cell changes are identified, patients will be advised to undergo a follow-up test after 12 months to monitor the presence of the virus.

Doing so would allow HPV to truly be #OneLessWorry and bring the world one step closer to achieving the World Health Organization’s 90-70-90 targets where 90% of girls are fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine by age 15 years; 70% of women are screened with a high-performance test by 35 years of age and again by 45 years of age; and 90% of women identified with cervical disease receive treatment by 2030.

By staying ahead of the curve through vaccines, specialty, and general medicines, GSK hopes to continue to play a part in the betterment of public health in Malaysia.

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