October 18, 2021

Leading Health Organizations Urge Canadians to Get Back on Track to Help Stop the Spread of HPV: HPV Prevention Week (Oct 3-8)

OTTAWA, ON, Oct. 3, 2021 /CNW/ – As the fifth annual HPV Prevention Week (October 3rd – 8th) begins, two…

OTTAWA, ON, Oct. 3, 2021 /CNW/ – As the fifth annual HPV Prevention Week (October 3rd – 8th) begins, two leading health organizations are sounding the alarm over potentially serious gaps in HPV (Human Papillomavirus) prevention efforts caused by the pandemic over the past year. The Federation of Medical Women of Canada (FMWC) and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) are calling on provincial and territorial governments to prioritize HPV prevention following a year marked by disruptions and cancellations of potentially life-saving routine care services.

A reduction of in-person healthcare visits that began in the first wave of the pandemic have caused many to miss routine check-ups and cervical cancer screenings. These vital services can help reduce the impact of the virus. The cancellation of in-school vaccination programs in most schools have also led to a reduction in HPV vaccine uptake. While several regions are offering local catch-up clinics, they are being held in community locations and not in schools, making uptake more difficult to track and putting the onus on parents to ensure their child is up to date on their immunizations. Governments must do more to ensure HPV prevention services are accessible, convenient and well communicated.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI).1 It is responsible for most genital warts and almost all cases of cervical cancer, but it can also lead to anal cancer, vaginal and vulvar cancers, penile cancers, and mouth and throat cancers.2  It is estimated that three out of every four sexually active Canadians will contract HPV at some point in their lives.3

“Routine check-ups, cervical cancer screenings and in-school vaccinations all contribute to help protect you, your family and your community from the potential impacts of HPV,” said Dr. Jennifer Blake, Chief Executive Officer of the SOGC. “It is crucial that we get back on track and make HPV prevention a priority.”

October 3rd to 8th marks the fifth annual HPV Prevention Week in Canada, an awareness and educational initiative which encourages everyone to take measures to help stop the spread of HPV and the range of cancers it can cause. It is within Canada’s grasp to eliminate certain HPV-related cervical cancers, but gaps in HPV prevention efforts put that goal at risk.

“This past year has presented Canadian families with special challenges to accessing preventative care, but HPV doesn’t take a break,” said Dr. Vivien Brown, past president of the FMWC, and Chair & Co-Founder of HPV Prevention Week in Canada. “It is our hope that the events and activities held during HPV Prevention Week will help Canadians educate themselves on HPV prevention and make informed decisions about their health.”

Canadians are encouraged to take the following steps to help protect themselves and their loved ones against HPV and certain HPV-related cancers:

  • Learn about STIs, including their signs, symptoms, consequences, and methods of transmission.4
  • Learn about safer sex methods and use them consistently. Correctly and consistently using a condom during sex may reduce your risk of getting HPV, as well as preventing other STIs. However, remember that the areas of skin not covered by the condom are not protected.5
  • Make informed decisions about your sexual health. Talk to your partner(s) about their STI status and the use of protection. Remember that the previous sexual behaviours of your partner(s) are also a risk for you, especially if they have had multiple partners.6
  • Ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist about HPV vaccination for you and your family members – vaccines are available in Canada, to help prevent infections from various types of HPV. If you were not immunized against HPV in school, it may not be too late.
  • If you are a woman, see your doctor regularly for a Pap test and/or a HPV DNA test, where recommended and available, even if you have been vaccinated for HPV.7
  • If you are a male who has sex with men, you are at higher risk of HPV infection, and should speak with your doctor about vaccination against HPV.8
  • If you are sexually active, talk to your doctor about HPV prevention. Remember about 75% of sexually active men and women will get at least one HPV infection in their lifetime.9 Most people with a healthy immune system will eventually clear the infection from their bodies, but for some others, it can go on to cause genital warts or cancer.10 The best strategy is prevention.

The founding partners of HPV Prevention Week are FMWC, SOGC and Merck Canada Inc., whose support continues to make HPV Prevention Week possible. HPV Prevention Week initiatives taking place across Canada include:

On Monday, October 4th, SOGC will host a Facebook Live event aimed at families looking for information about in-school vaccination programs and catch-up efforts. The live discussion will be hosted by SOGC CEO Dr. Jennifer Blake and Toronto Gynecologist Dr. Kim Alexander. Joining them is Dr. Nancy Durand, a gynecologist at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Science Centre. For more information, visit SOGC’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sogc.org/.   

On Thursday, October 7th, FMWC will host a live Facebook discussion, including a live Q&A, on the importance of HPV Prevention. The discussion will include the following experts, patients and advocates:

  • Dr. Vivien Brown, Chair of HPV Prevention Week
  • Liz Ellwood, Cervical Cancer Survivor
  • Dr. Sari Kives, Deputy Chief of Gynecology at St. Michael’s Hospital
  • Dr. Chloé Rozon, OBGYN Resident at The Ottawa Hospital

For details or to register, visit https://fmwc.ca/hpv-prevention-week.

To find out more about HPV, visit www.canadavsHPV.ca      

About FMWC

The Federation of Medical Women of Canada (FMWC) is a national organization committed to the professional, social and personal advancement of women physicians and to the promotion of the well-being of women both in the medical profession and in society at large.  Established in 1924, the FMWC is also an independent nation member of the Medical Women’s International Association. For more information, please visit: www.fmwc.ca 

About SOGC

SOGC is one of Canada’s oldest national specialty organizations. Established in 1944, the Society’s mission is to promote excellence in the practice of obstetrics and gynaecology and to advance the health of women through leadership, advocacy, collaboration and education. The SOGC has grown to over 4,000 members, comprised of obstetricians, gynaecologists, family physicians, nurses, midwives, and allied health professionals working in the field of women’s sexual and reproductive health. For more information, please visit www.sogc.org

For further information or to arrange interviews with Dr. Brown or Dr. Blake, contact: Lauren Douglas, Veritas Communications, douglas@veritasinc.com

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1

Government of Canada. 2017. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv.html (accessed September 2021)



2

Government of Canada. 2017. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv.html (accessed September 2021)



3

Government of Canada. 2017. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv.html (accessed September 2021)



4

Government of Canada. 2017. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv.html (accessed September 2021)



5

Government of Canada. 2017. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv.html (accessed September 2021)



6

Government of Canada. 2017. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv.html (accessed September 2021)



7

Government of Canada. 2017. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv.html (accessed September 2021)



8

Government of Canada. 2017. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv.html (accessed September 2021)



9

Canadian Cancer Society. Human papillomavirus. Available online: https://cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/reduce-your-risk/get-vaccinated/human-papillomavirus-hpv (accessed September 2021)



10

Government of Canada. 2017. Human Papillomavirus (HPV). Available online: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/human-papillomavirus-hpv.html (accessed September 2021)

 

SOURCE Federation of Medical Women of Canada