HPV vaccination: Health ministry dismisses media reports as ‘speculative’

Govt says no decision has taken on vaccination rollout

Representative image | Reuters Representative image | Reuters

Multiple media outlets reported in the past two days that the central government is likely to roll out an immunisation campaign against human papillomavirus (HPV) later this year.

As per the reports, girls in the age group of 9-14 would be administered free vaccine in three phases over the next three years.

The government, however, on Saturday came up with a clarification and dismissed those reports as “false and speculative”.

“The Union Health Ministry is yet to take a decision on the roll out of HPV vaccination in the country. It is closely monitoring the incidences of cervical cancer cases in the country and is in regular touch with states and various health departments regarding this,” said an official statement.

What is HPV?

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common sexually transmitted infection which can affect the skin, genital area and throat. 

Almost all sexually active people will be infected at some point in their lives, usually without symptoms. However, persistent infection with high-risk HPV can cause abnormal cells to develop, which go on to become cancer, as per the World Health Organisation.

Persistent HPV infection of the cervix, if left untreated, causes 95 per cent of cervical cancers. 

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women globally with an estimated 604 000 new cases and 342 000 deaths in 2020. 

According to the WHO, women living with HIV are 6 times more likely to develop cervical cancer compared to women without HIV.

The Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's biggest vaccine maker, developed the country's first cervical cancer vaccine in 2022.

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