On HPV Awareness Day, 4th March 2019, NOMAN were invited onto BBC News to discuss human papillomavirus and the vaccine that protects against it. This was in response to a piece around HPV vaccination rates in BAME girls in the UK being much lower than the rest of the population.
It was a timely opportunity to raise awareness as to how we can prevent 5% of cancers by vaccinating both boys and girls, especially in the light of a recently published study around awareness about HPV and attitudes towards it from across Europe, including the UK.
The survey of some 15,000 adults aged 16 to 60 years from a sample of countries from Northern and Southern Europe where HPV vaccine is recommended, presented some alarming statistics:
— OVER A THIRD OF RESPONDENTS ARE UNAWARE OF HPV
— LESS THAN HALF OF RESPONDENTS ARE AWARE OF THE LINK OF HPV TO CANCER
— A LOW LEVEL OF RESPONDENTS BELIEVE BOTH MALES AND FEMALES ARE EQUALLY AT RISK OF CONTRACTING HPV, AGAIN HIGHLIGHTING A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING
— ONLY 1 IN 3 RESPONDENTS AGREE THAT HPV CAN CAUSE CANCER IN MALES
Overall Italy, Portugal and Spain had the best awareness about HPV and its link to cancer; at the other end of the scale Austria, Germany and Switzerland performed poorly despite the vaccine being available to both boys and girls in those countries.
UK participants in the survey returned the following results:
— AWARE OF HPV: 56%
— AWARE OF LINK BETWEEN HPV AND CANCER: 38%
— AWARE THAT HPV CAUSED CANCER IN MEN: 28%
The lack of awareness of HPV and the diseases it causes is a striking reminder of the work that remains to be done in educating people across Europe of the risks of HPV, and the need to vaccinate both boys and girls against the virus in order to protect them against HPV-related cancers. NOMAN will continue to work to raise awareness around this virus and how we can protect our sons and daughters.
You can read the full survey here.