Eliminate HPV? Portugal has work to do

It was in 2008 that Portugal introduced the vaccine against the human papillomavirus (HPV) into the National Vaccination Program, then only aimed at girls, having, in 2020, extended it to boys, in a prevention strategy. ion and screening — HPV is a very common sexually transmitted infection, it is estimated that 85 to 90% of sexually active people have had contact with the virus at some point in their lives without knowing it, and It is, worldwide, responsible for 100% of cervical cancer or 90% of anal cancer, for example.

In Portugal, the numbers say that, after 15 years, the results in this area are very important. Celebrating this success does not, however, prevent us from understanding what remains to be done and looking ahead to the future.

It is in this sense that the event “A European ambition: eliminating HPV†is taking place this Wednesday, June 5th, a conference in which Expresso is media partner MSD, and which will bring together health professionals, representatives of people with the disease and health authorities to discuss the future of combating HPV.

The objective is to eliminate HPV, not only in Portugal, but also in Europe – the European Commission has already presented the  European Plan to Fight Cancer, a political commitment so that the countries of the European Union to have a joint approach to eliminate cancer, promoting more and better health.


are the cases of cancer per year in Portugal whose culprit is HPV – and close to 800 deaths annually

Most HPV infections are asymptomatic and can be resolved by the immune system itself. However, persistent infections, with high-risk HPV types, can lead to the development of oncological diseases.

“In Europe, it is estimated that annually 58 thousand women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and that, of these, 26 thousand die from the disease. These cancers (and deaths) and diseases associated with HPV are completely prevented by the vaccine, which is free in Portugal for girls and boys aged ten, highlights Luís Mendão, director of advocacy, policies of health and external relations, GAT, remembering that Portugal “does not vaccinate people up to the age of 26 free of charge, as in some other countries, nor people with HIV and other people with immunosuppression up to the age of 45 , as happens in some countries”.

HPV prevention can be done through vaccination, which is highly effective against the most common and high-risk types of HPV. Additionally, the use of condoms can reduce, but not completely eliminate, the risk of HPV transmission.

The vaccine makes it possible to plan a generation born in this century without HPV and greatly improve the damage to those born in the last century, believes Luís Mendão

Given its vaccination rates, the populations already covered and the effectiveness of health services, it is believed that Portugal could be one of the first countries to eliminate cancers caused by HPV — By May 2025, Italy, Ireland, Sweden, Malta, as well as the United Kingdom, have presented plans to eliminate cancers caused by HPV, and these countries are joined by others from outside Europe, such as Australia or Indonesia, which have presented plans to eliminate cervical cancer.

What is it?

Several experts will meet to discuss the challenges and goals in the fight against HPV.

When, where and at what time?

The event will take place next Wednesday, June 5th, at the Knowledge Pavilion, in Lisbon, from 9.30am. Entry is free.

Who are the speakers?

  • Ana Povo, Secretary of State for Health
  • Ana Abrunhosa, president of the Parliamentary Health Committee
  • Teresa Fernandes, coordinator of the national vaccination program, DGS
  • Pedro Vieira Baptista, Centro Universitário Hospitalar de São João
  • Carmen Lisboa, Centro Universitário Hospitalar de São João
  • José Dinis, director of the national oncological diseases program, DGS
  • Rui Medeiros, president of the European Cancer Organization
  • Luís Mendão, director of advocacy, health policies and external relations, GAT
  • Marta Valente Pinto, president of the vaccination technical committee, DGS
  • Cátia Caldas, infectious disease specialist, infectious diseases service, São João University Hospital Center
  • Rita Sá Machado, general director of health

Why is this theme central?

This conference will bring together health professionals, representatives of people with the disease and health authorities, to discuss the future of combating the human papillomavirus. The objective is to eliminate HPV at a European level.

Where (and how) can I watch?

You can watch via Expresso Facebook or sign up to attend in person here.


Francesco Giganti

Journalist, social media, blogger and pop culture obsessive in newshubpro

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