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HPV concerns indicate need for comprehensive sex ed

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Dear Editor,

Globally, October is recognised as breast cancer awareness month, at which time we encourage women to check for early signs of the deadly disease.

While this is happening, the Ministry of Health has rolled out a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme to prevent the spread of the virus which is known to cause cervical cancer in women and girls and affects fertility.

While the vaccination is focused on girls, men and boys can also be carriers of the virus. There has also been criticism of the Government's roll-out of the vaccination programme due to a lack of an accompanying public education campaign.

The lack of a comprehensive implementation of the programme to include males may prove to be a weakness in its execution, and the lack of a public education campaign is a symptom of the lack of a structured, comprehensive sex, sexuality and reproductive health campaign for the population that is broad-based and age-sensitive. This would empower our populace to be aware of actions they can take to improve their sexual and reproductive health to prevent the transmission of life-altering sexually transmitted diseases, including HPV.

For young people, these efforts are significantly important, given that young people between teenage years to mid adulthood account for the majority of new sexually transmitted infections.

The Ministry of Health, while implementing the new HPV vaccination programme, should consider a comprehensive sex, sexuality and reproductive health campaign to support the attainment of Jamaica's goals under the United Nations' sustainable development goals.


Kevonne Martin