RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – With growing evidence that the Human Papillomavirus Infection is the leading cause of cervical cancer, Saudi Arabia is set to launch an HPV vaccination program for girls aged 9 – 13. Although HPV can come in 100 different variants, certain types are categorized as a high risk.
The vaccine has been around since 2006 and has been heavily encouraged by the World Health Organization since 2009, but the immunization program was enforced only earlier this month by Dr. Abdullah Asiri, assistant deputy minister for preventive medicine. Currently, cases of cervical cancer are increasing, with almost 358 new cervical cancer diagnosed confirmed annual, according to a 2021 study conducted by the HPV Information Center.
Ranking as the eighth most popular type of cancer in women of ages 15 to 44, and killing more than 300,000 years every year, cervical cancer can be caused by the rising incidence of HPV. The Saudi Food and Drug Authority approved the HPV vaccine for females aged 11 to 26 in 2010. However, exposure to the virus can be reduced by taking the vaccine from the age of nine, eventually cutting of developing cancer by 90%.
With more than 3 million deaths recorded annually, the fatality rate of cervical cancer is said to rise three times higher in low and middle – income nations. Two different types of HPV can cause cancer, but personal hygiene also plays a major role in attracting it. Recent studies by the American Cancer Society have also suggested that tobacco byproducts have been found in the cervical mucus of smokers; hence the DNA of the area’s cells can get damaged and lead to cervical cancer. It was stated that smokers are twice as likely to get cervical cancer than non – smokers.