The Cayman Islands Cancer Society, in association with the Public Health Department at Faith Hospital, hosted a free educational seminar “Cervical Cancer and The HPV Vaccine – All You Need To Know” on Friday, 9 October at the Alexander Hotel.
In August, the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, the Ministry of Health and the Public Health Department of the Cayman Islands started a pilot project to offer the HPV vaccine free of charge across the Cayman Islands to 150 girls between the ages 11 and 17. Part of this project was an education program about the human papillomavirus (HPV) for the Sister Island of Cayman Brac.
Chief Operating Officer and Director of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society, Christine Sanders, educated parents and their daughters about HPV and the benefits of the vaccination. She explained that the human papillomavirus is the most common sexually- transmitted disease and that it is most common in people in their late teens and early 20s. She explained that while most HPV types cause no symptoms and go away on their own, some types can cause pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions of the cervix, vagina and vulva, as well as genital warts.
Cervical cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among women around the world.
“The HPV vaccine protects against four major types of HPV. These include two types that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer and two types that cause about 90 percent of genital warts,” Ms Sanders explained during the presentation..
“Hence, the HPV vaccine can prevent most genital warts and most cases of cervical cancer.”
“It’s important to inform parents and their daughters about HPV and this vaccine. Girls should get vaccinated before they become sexually active, because they have not been exposed to HPV,” Ms Sanders said.
“For these girls, the vaccine can prevent almost 100 percent of diseases caused by the four types of HPV targeted by the vaccine,” she noted.
Dr. Sook Yin, Medical Director of the Cayman Islands Cancer Society answered questions about the HPV vaccination and its side effects, which are generally mild and include pain, redness, swelling and itching at the injection site. Dr. Yin explained that the HPV vaccine is given as a three-dose series. The second and third doses are received two months and six months after the first dose and will be available at the Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac.
As a part of the educational seminar, the HPV vaccination was available for girls between the ages of 11 and 17 years immediately after the presentation at the Alexander Hotel’s Conference Room. Nurses from the Public Health Department at Faith Hospital vaccinated four young women after the presentation.
The costs for the vaccination are covered by fundraising efforts at the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” event held at the Ritz Carlton in Grand Cayman in December 2008, Dr. Yin explained.
“We are glad that we are able to offer this free vaccination program. Our thanks go to everyone who helped to make this possible. Special thanks also go to the Casa Bracka restaurant and the Grizzel family for sponsoring the refreshments at this event, and to the Alexander Hotel as they were a great help and donated the use of their conference room for the day.”