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Cervical cancer jab for girls?

17th April 2007

A nine-year-old girl could become one of the first British girls to be immunised against cervical cancer.

Freya Dean’s mother wants her daughter to have the jab as she feels it could save her child’s life at some stage in the future.  However, the little girl’s father is worried it will send the wrong message to his daughter about under-age sex.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among young women and claims over 3,000 victims annually, a third of which will die.  Sufferers are usually aged between 15 and 44.  Cervical cancer is predominantly caused by the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus (HPV) and the more partners a woman has the more likely she is to be at risk of contracting the virus.

Gardasil is the world’s first vaccine against the virus.  Five years ago the drug, which is produced by Merck, was hailed a phenomenon as it showed a 100 per cent success rate in preventing the development of cervical cancer.  The drug is now licensed in the UK but has yet to become available on the NHS.

Critics of the vaccine, including Freya Dean’s father, are worried that giving a young girl a jab to protect her from sexually transmitted infection before she is legally able to have sex is tantamount to giving her the green light to experiment sexually. However, others argue that the younger a girl receives the vaccine the more effective it is in the long term.

 

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