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HPV stigma must end says Mid and West Wales AM

NEIL Hamilton, AM for Mid & West Wales and Leader of UKIP Wales, is backing a major campaign to highlight the importance of cervical screening.

Neil Hamilton, is supporting Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to tackle the myths and stigma around the common virus HPV and get the facts out.

Last year the cervical screening programme in Wales moved to test for HPV1 first, a far more sensitive test will save lives but also means many more women will be told they have HPV.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is running its #SmearForSmear campaign during the current Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, January 20-26 to tackle the misconceptions about the virus.

Mr Hamilton said:

“I am a great supporter of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK’s leading cervical cancer charity, and delighted to back any initiative which will ultimately help to save lives.

The Trust provides valuable information and support to anyone affected and campaigns for excellence in cervical cancer treatment, care and prevention.

“We must get the message out there to help end the myths and get the facts out about HPV and smear tests.

“Cervical screening uptake in Wales is currently 73.2% in 2018/19 meaning one in four women are not benefitting from this potentially life-saving test.

“Screening is vitally important. All women, and young women in particular, need to understand that cervical cancer can be prevented by detection of the early symptoms. I would urge my constituents to support the Cervical Screening Awareness Week and help raise awareness of this disease.”

 In the majority of cases, HPV infection goes away without doing the body any harm. Sometimes it causes cells to change which, if not treated, could develop into cervical cancer. Testing for HPV is a far more accurate test estimated to prevent almost 500 diagnoses of cervical cancer every year in the UK2.

New research conducted by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has found a third of women consider HPV a taboo topic and would not want anyone to know if they had it. A quarter haven’t heard of HPV and one in five would feel embarrassed if they were told they had the virus. Calls to the charity’s Helpline about HPV have already risen 50% over the past year. It is expecting this to significantly rise as more women are tested for HPV and is calling on health professionals to be prepared for increases in questions from patients and encouraging open conversation.

Robert Music, Chief Executive, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust: “HPV can be confusing but it is nothing to be ashamed of. 80% of us will get at least one type of HPV in our lives and in most cases the immune system will get rid of the infection without it causing any harm. We need to get the facts out about HPV and get rid of harmful myths and stigma around this really common virus.”

Neil Hamilton, AM for Mid & West Wales and Leader of UKIP Wales with Robert Music, Chief Executive, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

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