Preventing cervical cancer
- By Richard Branson -
- Jan 27, 2012
This week is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, a cause I am very keen to highlight. It is a disease that affects millions, but many people still know very little about it.
When I went to Stephen Hawking’s 70th birthday party recently I was talking to Trinity College’s deputy chancellor, who is an expert on cervical cancer. He spoke about the amount of people who die unnecessarily from preventable diseases. He mentioned that cervical cancer alone kills 250,000 girls and women per year. And yet, there is now an injection which is nearly 100% effective, whereby if a girl has the injection before she loses her virginity - and therefore before she is infected with the HumanPapalomaVirus (HPV) - the chances of her getting cervical cancer are dramatically reduced.
Sadly in America and other countries around the world, there are some extreme religious groups who say it will encourage promiscuity, and so won’t inject their children with this lifesaving vaccine. It's pretty incredible when you think about it. We should do all we can to try to persuade them how unwise that is.
Interestingly, the deputy chancellor also believes that young boys should be injected as well before they too have sex (as they too can contract HPV), which could save them getting anal, penile and oropharyngeal cancer. This, he says, is not acted upon by most health authorities due to costs.
For those people who are already sexually active, obviously the first priority is to wear a condom, as this greatly reduces the chances of contracting HPV (and obviously other sexually contracted diseases including HIV). It's also extremely wise for all parents to have their (realistically baby) sons circumcised, since all the statistics are showing the enormous benefits that gives to helping prevent so many diseases, including contracting HIV.
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group