From the fall, seventh-grade boys and their parents can also apply for vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV), Miklós Kásler, minister of human resources announced. According to Kásler, the vaccination – just as in the case of girls, for whom the vaccination has been available for years now – is voluntary and free. The vaccination is given to the students in the schools after parental consent.
Béla Tamási, the head of the National STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) Center, gave an interview to news portal Index last week, in which he said that although it is a common belief that it only affects women, HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that men cannot only be carriers of, but sufferers as well. Although HPV infection mainly affects women under the age of 25, it can also be dangerous for men.
In addition to infecting their female partners, which can lead to cervical cancer, HPV can also cause tumors of the head and neck, as well as penis and rectum cancer. As Tamási put it, that is why it would be extremely important for parents to take the opportunity to vaccinate their children at school in time in order to achieve the ultimate goal, an effect similar to herd immunity.
The HPV virus has several strains with different chances of causing cervical cancer – and the current best vaccine protects against nine strains (seven high and two low-risk ones) and covers roughly 90 percent of the strains that cause cervical cancer. In any case, the vaccine itself does not protect against the appearance of the affected HPV in our body, but against the HPV strain causing the malignancy. The vaccine has no serious side effects, as it has been tested since 2003. In 2017, the WHO declared the safety of HPV vaccines to be outstandingly good.
featured photo: illustration (Tamás Kovács/MTI)