At summit, a push for HPV vaccine

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Saturday, November 17, 2012


WITH 12 Filipinas succumbing to cervical cancer every day, an advocate called on women to get vaccinated against the disease.

Former beauty queen Abbygale Arenas-de Leon, president of the Braveheart Coalition, a non-profit organization that aims to raise awareness about cervical cancer, said women should take advantage of the vaccine.

Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Filipino women, next to breast cancer, said de Leon, who spoke during the Women’s Summit in Mandaue City yesterday.

“Every woman is at risk,” she said, adding that the disease often has no signs or symptoms. De Leon said there are three ways to prevent cervical cancer: awareness, screening and vaccination.

The vaccine is administered in three doses.

The Braveheart Coalition, which was formed in 2007, is tapping corporate sponsors and government agencies to make the vaccine accessible to women.

The group hopes to work with the Department of Health next year, said De Leon.

The disease is caused by human papillomavirus or HPV, which can be transmitted not only through sex but also through skin-to-skin contact of genital area.

“Women don’t know they have it until it’s too late,” De Leon said. She said cervical cancer is the first kind of cancer that can be prevented through a vaccine.

By having a healthy lifestyle and avoiding multiple sexual relationships, a woman can reduce the chances of getting the disease, de Leon said.

The Braveheart Coalition works with the Glaxo SmithKline, which produces a vaccine against cervical cancer.

De Leon said they have been going around the country to spread awareness about cervical cancer for five years. “Let us make the Philippines cervical cancer-free,” she said.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 17, 2012.

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