Paediatricians stand behind HPV vaccine for Canadian girls

    OTTAWA, Sept. 24 /CNW Telbec/ - All Canadian girls between 9 and 13 years
old should receive the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, according to a new
statement by the Canadian Paediatric Society. The CPS also recommends that
girls at higher risk of early sexual activity-those who are street-involved,
or under the care of child welfare-be targeted.
    "HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection," said Dr. Lindy
Samson, principal author of the statement, HPV vaccine for children and
adolescents, published in Paediatrics & Child Health this month. "The HPV
vaccine prevents girls and women from getting infected with HPV. The vaccine
significantly lowers the risk of cervical cancer."
    Between 10 and 29 per cent of Canadians are infected with human
papillomavirus, which is most common in people under 25 years old and most
commonly acquired during the first five years of sexual activity. HPV is the
major cause of cervical cancer. The vaccine must be given before any sexual
activity begins to effectively prevent the long-term complications of HPV
infection. Between 17 and 23 per cent of children and teens have had their
first sexual intercourse by Grade 9.
    "Along with the vaccine, enhanced sexual education is critical so that
girls don't get a false sense of security," said Dr. Samson, a member of the
CPS Infectious Diseases and Immunization Committee. "Girls and young women
need to be educated on how to have the safest possible sexual relationships in
order to minimize their risk of acquiring any sexually transmitted infections.
In addition, sexually active vaccinated girls must still participate in
cervical cancer screening programs, such as routine Pap smears."
    The CPS also recommends a catch-up program for girls 13 years and over,
for whom the vaccine is approved. Several provinces have already implemented
vaccination programs.
    "The vaccine has been proven to be safe for girls and women over the age
of 9 years," said Dr. Samson.
    The first vaccine against HPV-which protects against four strains of the
virus-was approved for use in Canada in 2006.

    The Canadian Paediatric Society is a national advocacy association that
promotes the health needs of children and youth. Founded in 1922, the CPS
represents more than 2,500 paediatricians, paediatric subspecialists and other
child health professionals across Canada. Paediatrics & Child Health is the
peer-reviewed journal of the CPS.

    To access the full statement, visit:

For further information:

For further information: Jennifer Lefebvre, Canadian Paediatric Society,
(613) 526-9397, ext. 247, (613) 850-4868 (cell); Olivia Craft, Canadian
Paediatric Society, (613) 526-9397, ext. 234

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