Target: Peter Dutton, Australian Minister for Health
Goal: Applaud Australia for providing free vaccinations against infection by the human papilloma virus (HPV)
Human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection. Although it’s mostly benign, it can cause serious health conditions like cervical cancer. In 2007, Australia became one of the first countries to provide the HPV vaccination for free through a national immunization program, and recent reports confirm that it has led to a significant decrease in new HPV infections. Praise Australia’s widespread initiative that is protecting the health of women and girls throughout the country.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly all sexually active men and women get at least one of the many types of HPV at some point in their lives. While HPV generally goes away on its own most of the time, causing no health problems, it can lead to more serious conditions like genital warts or cervical cancer if left unchecked. Thankfully, safe and effective vaccines do exist, and come in the form of three shots over six months, all of which must be administered to be fully vaccinated. Through its anti-HPV program, the Australian government provided free vaccinations to girls between the ages of 12 and 18. A catch-up program also provided vaccinations through general practitioners to women ages 18-26.
Today, thanks to the school-wide program instituted in 2007, more than 70 percent of girls turning fifteen in Australia have received all three doses of the vaccine – a higher proportion than the 38 percent of girls 13-17 in the U.S. who have been fully vaccinated. With the vaccine comes protection against HPV types 6-11 as well as 16-18, the major causes of genital warts and cervical cancer, respectively. A recent peer-reviewed study in the journal PLOS One confirmed the effectiveness of Australia’s program, finding that the rate of HPV among women 15-27 has decreased by 61 percent.
By signing the petition below, you will applaud the Australian government’s leadership in protecting individuals from this sexually transmitted infection.
Dear Minister Dutton,
I am writing to applaud Australia’s free nationwide immunization program, which has helped prevent the spread of HPV, or human papilloma virus. Thanks to the program, instituted in 2007, more than 70 percent of girls turning fifteen have received all three doses of the vaccine necessary to protect against HPV types 6-11, the major causes of genital warts, as well as types 16-18, the major causes of cervical cancer. According to the recent peer-reviewed study in PLOS One, the program has helped decrease the rate of HPV among women ages 15-27 by 61 percent.
By taking on the responsibility to protect your nation’s health, you have set a powerful example to the global community, showing the positive impact that strong health policy leadership can have in protecting individuals against viruses like HPV. I applaud your service and accomplishments, and hope that your efforts may inspire further initiatives worldwide.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Kelley Boone via Wikimedia Commons