It’s not often we get good news about cancer, but there’s good news about HPV. The free Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccinations being rolled out in schools give young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander males and females the chance at the best possible protection from HPV-related cancers and disease.
And there’s a great set of resources that have been developed in consultation with Indigenous communities and Indigenous health professionals to help spread the word.These include a comic for young males and females, as well as posters, a flyer, audio translations and digital resources, and are available for download from australia.gov.au/hpv.
The comic book HPV and Me – My Health, My Future has a specific ‘boys’ story and ‘girls’ story and focuses on the lives of two 13 year olds, Wes and Bianca.
The comic follows Wes and Bianca’s journeys as they find out more about the HPV vaccination and, with the consent of their parents, decide to have the vaccine. Parent/guardian consent is necessary before young people can get the vaccinations.
Multi ARIA and Deadly Award winner Troy Cassar-Daley makes a cameo appearance in the comic, urging young Indigenous people to get their HPV vaccination.
HPV and Me – My Health, My Future is not only a great resource for anyone wanting to know more about the HPV vaccination, but also an engaging story about the importance of looking after your health and setting goals for the future. It is hoped that the resources will engage the community, informing young people, parents and guardians, and encouraging parental consent for the vaccinations.
HPV is a common virus that affects men and women. It can cause cancers and genital warts in both males and females. HPV can be passed from one person to another person through sexual contact. It usually doesn’t cause symptoms so people infected with the virus may not know they have it.
Many types of HPV infection can be prevented by vaccination. The HPV vaccination program in schools has been successful in lowering rates of genital warts, and early results suggest it will lead to lower rates of cervical and other cancers that affect males and females.
The HPV vaccine is available free in schools including to young Indigenous males and females aged 12-13 years to protect against cancers and disease caused by the HPV virus. In some remote areas, the vaccine will also be available in community health clinics.
Males aged 14-15 years are also able to get the free HPV vaccine until the end of 2014 as part of a catch-up program.
The vaccine is given by qualified immunisation providers. For full protection against HPV-related cancers and disease, three doses of the HPV vaccine are needed over six months. The vaccine has been tested to make sure it’s safe for young males and females and more than 7 million doses have been distributed in Australia to date.
If you want to know more about the HPV vaccination program, head to australia.gov.au/hpv and then to the Indigenous website where you can order your free copy of the comic and download the resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.