Clinics to provide cervical cancer vaccine

A vaccine which protects women against cervical cancer will be available in the UK within weeks.

Gardasil will be the first such vaccine to get a license and will be available for females between the ages of nine and 26, offering 100 per cent protection against the two main strains of the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted.

Experts predict that the vaccine will significantly reduce the need for smear tests, which are currently offered every three to five years to all women between the ages of 25 and 64.

The vaccine will be available at private clinics at £60 per vaccine, with a course of three injections required over a six-month period.

Individual primary care trusts may choose to offer the vaccines on the NHS, although the Department of Health's advisers are not expected to make recommendations for several months.

Pamela Morton, director of charity Jo's Trust, told the Daily Mail: "We are expecting a huge demand and women have been contacting us about it.

"It will be cost-effective in the long run because, together with screening, it will stop many women from developing cervical cancer."

Cervical cancer is diagnosed in around 3,000 women in the UK each year, with around 1,000 cases proving fatal.

Experts are calling for a vaccination programme of girls at the age of 12, before they become exposed to HPV.

A second vaccine, Cervarix, is expected in 2007, which will be administered to women up to the age of 55 years.

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