TCI News

TCI: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Vaccine Launched

#Providenciales, March 21, 2019 – Turks and CaicosHThe Turks and Caicos Islands Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Sports and Human Services advises the public of the availability of the HPV vaccine. This is the vaccine that protects against cervical cancer.

FACT: Cervical cancer is preventable. It is one of the most common forms of cancer in women in Latin America and the Caribbean. It can be prevented by the HPV vaccine, screening and treatment of pre-cancerous lesions. HPV is a group of about 200 viruses.  Historically, the virus was known only to be transmitted through sexual contact.  While this is still the leading cause of transmission, research has proven that the virus can live on surfaces for a long time and is resistant to heat and disinfectant.  When an individual encounters an infected surface (e.g. toilet seats, countertops, swimming pool floors, gym equipment, sheets, towels), they can become infected.

50%-80% of sexually active individuals will be infected with HPV in their lifetime.  While it is possible for the body to clear HPV on its own, there are cases when it does not; this is when the virus can develop into cancer or genital warts. The types of HPV which cause genital warts are different to those which cause cancers.  HPV can cause many different types of cancer; cervical, vaginal, vulva, oral-pharyngeal (throat), anus and penile.  There are other ways of developing cervical cancer, however, HPV is the leading cause.

SOLUTION:  Don‘t procrastinate, vaccinate.

FACT: Cervical cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death among women globally.  Some 72,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in our region. Cervical cancer ranks among the first five most common cancers, in terms of both incidence and mortality in Latin America and the Caribbean. In this region, the disease is estimated to be the second most common cancer after breast cancer. Twenty-three (23) countries in our region are among those that have documented cervical cancer deaths. It is for this reason that the HPV vaccine is being introduced, as it is the most effective way of preventing cervical cancer. 

Prevention is better than cure and young women who receive the vaccine must still have their annual pap smears for detection of precancerous lesions.  An estimated 32 million women in the region are eligible for cervical cancer screening, which, when coupled with treatment can save lives. The TCI in 2018 recorded ten (10) persons living with cervical cancer

SOLUTION:  Don’t procrastinate. Vaccinate.

FACT:  The myths surrounding the vaccines have been dispelled and proven to be just myths. The vaccine is safe and effective and available at no cost through the Primary Health Department. Over 67 million doses of the vaccine have been administered globally.  Currently, the vaccine is only being offered to girls and women aged 9 to 26 years.  While there have been requests from women who are older and some countries have been known to offer it at an older age, the vaccine is most effective in the younger women and girls.

For individuals aged 9 to 14 years, a two-dose schedule will be used; for those 15 to 26 years, a three-dose schedule will be used.  At the end of 2019, we expect to introduce the HPV vaccine that will cover both genders, so our boys and men will be able to benefit from this vaccine. 

Women between the ages of 21-65 years are reminded to ensure that they have regular pap smears to be screened for cervical cancer.  Early identification of abnormalities and treatment result in improved outcomes.

It is time to end cervical cancer.

SOLUTION:  Don’t procrastinate. Vaccinate.

For more information please call or visit your nearest primary health care clinic, speak with your primary health care provider or contact the Senior Public Health Nurse on 338-5469. 

Don’t procrastinate, vaccinate!

Press Release: TCIG

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