Continuing Medical Education

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination of adolescents in the South African private health sector: Lessons from the HPV demonstration project in KwaZulu-Natal

Nerisha Tathiah, Mergen Naidoo, Indres Moodley

Abstract


In South Africa (SA), >4 000 women die annually of cervical cancer, a disease caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). Infections caused
by certain genotypes of HPV increase the risk of cervical cancer. HIV-infected women in particular are more likely to have persistent HPV
infection, with higher-risk genotypes. In SA, two vaccines (HPV quadrivalent (types 6, 11, 16, and 18) vaccine, recombinant (Gardasil) and
HPV bivalent (types 16 and 18) vaccine, recombinant (Cervarix)) are currently registered for the prevention of HPV-related disease. In the
past, there have been significant challenges to achieving high coverage and uptake of vaccination – contributory factors include cost and
lack of awareness. An HPV demonstration project among schoolgirls in rural KwaZulu-Natal showed that high vaccine uptake is achievable.
In 2014, the National Department of Health launched the national HPV vaccination programme among female learners attending public
schools. Awareness of HPV vaccination among healthcare providers, education of parents, teachers and learners, and avoidance of missed
opportunities for vaccination are vital to the success of the programme. Primary healthcare practitioners may play an important role in
cervical cancer prevention by identifying and offering vaccination to girls who miss the opportunity to be vaccinated at school. HPV
vaccination should be considered as one arm of a comprehensive programme of cervical cancer prevention and control.


Authors' affiliations

Nerisha Tathiah, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital and Discipline of Public Health Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Mergen Naidoo, Discipline of Family Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

Indres Moodley, Discipline of Public Health Medicine, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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Keywords

Human papillomavirus; Vaccination; Adolescents

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2015;105(11):954. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2015.v105i11.10135

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-09-29
Date published: 2015-10-12

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