Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Schools opting out of cervical cancer vaccination for religious reasons

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Religious objections mean that several schools in England have opted out of providing their female students with the HPV vaccination, which can help prevent cervical cancer, the Guardian reports.

A study by GP magazine has found that 24 schools are not taking part in the HPV vaccination programme, which is available to girls aged 12 to 13. Because the vaccination immunises girls against two strains of the HPV (Human papillomavirus), which can lead to cervical cancer, and the virus can be sexually transmitted, many of the schools that have opted out have done so for religious reasons, based around concerns that providing teenage girls with the vaccination could encourage promiscuity. Some of the reasons given by the schools include "not in keeping with the school ethos"; "pupils follow strict Christian principles, marry within their own community and do not practise sex outside marriage"; and "the school does not want parents/students to feel pressured by peers or the school setting".

Cervical cancer currently kills 1,000 women in the UK every year, and 70 per cent of cases are caused by the HPV virus.

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