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Canadian Public Health Association

Canadian organizations mark the first annual international HPV awareness day: Give love, not HPV



On Sunday 4 March, the Canadian Public Health Association, HPV Awareness, and the Federation of Medical Women of Canada, will be joining forces with over 80 organizations worldwide to mark the first international HPV awareness day. The goal of the day is to spark conversation and promote a worldwide exchange of ideas, knowledge, and research materials about human papillomaviruses (HPV) and their associated diseases. 

Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are sexually transmitted viruses that are very common worldwide. There are more than 200 different HPV types, 80% of people will have HPV at some point in their lifetime and while for many it will cause no harm, some types of HPV are known to cause certain cancers such as cervical, anal and oropharyngeal cancer.

Worldwide, cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent cancer in women; in Canada, cervical cancer accounts for 2% of all new cancer cases in women while the incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancers increased by about 50% between 2000 and 2012.

International HPV Awareness Day is led by the International Papillomavirus Society and this year the campaign message is Give Love, Not HPV.

For more information about International HPV Awareness Day visit 


“Within 10 years of HPV vaccine availability in Canada, four provinces were able to demonstrate decreased number of infection, genital warts and pre-cancerous lesion of the cervix. Despite clear evidence that the HPV vaccine is very safe, a recent study indicates that a third of young Canadians are not receiving the benefits of being vaccinated against HPV.”
Dr. Marc Steben, Medical Advisor, STI unit, Québec national public health institute 

“We have the tools to prevent HPV. Currently, four on five Canadians will be affected by this virus in their lifetime; we can help fix this through more education. People need to be aware they come into contact with this virus through any skin to skin contact when they go below the belt with a partner. Instead of dealing with the consequences of this virus, be proactive and get the HPV vaccine.”
Teresa Norris, Founding President of HPV Awareness

“When I was 27, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I could not have imagined all the hardships that I was going to have to overcome. Overnight my life was literally turned around. I have been impacted in every area of my life; physically, psychologically, and financially. Now I am 35, and feel fortunate to still be alive. If only I had been informed about this virus earlier.” 
Marie-Elaine Gervais, member of HPV Awareness

“When I was a boy, the HPV vaccine did not exist. If it had existed, my mother, who was Registered Nurse, would have certainly vaccinated me, my brother and my three sisters, and I would have been saved the suffering of the treatment for a stage-4 HPV-related cancer and the health care system would have been spared the considerable cost of the treatment. There should be no stigma associated with HPV-related conditions or cancer; it can happen to virtually anyone.”
The Honourable Peter Kent, MP
Spokesperson for HPV Awareness

“How exciting it is to be able to have a vaccine that not merely prevents infection, but actually significantly reduces the risk of various cancers. In Canada, we offer this vaccine to both boys and girls in the school system through the publically funded programs!  Let's remember, however, that risk of disease does not stop at a certain age. We need to be educated, well informed and proactive, and prevent HPV at any age to both genders. Let's talk about cancer prevention. Let's eradicate HPV! 
Dr. Vivien Brown, Chair, HPV Prevention Week 2018
Past President, Federation of Medical Women of Canada

“We believe love is the foundation of a happy and healthy life. Whether it’s familial love, love between friends or romantic love, it is important that we look after and protect the people we care about.” 
Dr. Silvia De San José, President, International Papillomavirus Society


  • HPV is “human papillomavirus.” It’s a sexually transmitted virus and there are around 200 types of HPV. The subset of HPV types that infect the genital region can cause warts and deadly cancers such as cervical cancer and cancer of the penis, anus, vulva and throat.
  • HPV only infects skin cells and is spread through skin-to-skin contact. The HPV types that infect the genital region and throat are spread through sexual contact.
  • Three HPV vaccines are available in Canada. They are all highly effective in protecting against the HPV types they target, which includes the common high-risk (cancer-causing) types 16 and 18. The vaccines are most effective when administered before the onset of sexual activity when the probability of prior infection is low, which is why publicly funded programs are for school-aged children. In addition, the immune system responds better when vaccination is given at a young age.
  • Extensive research shows that the vaccines are safe, well tolerated and do not increase the risk of serious adverse events. The most common side effects are soreness, swelling, itching and redness at the injection site and fainting.
  • Vaccine coverage rates range from 43% to 91% across the country, and only 2 provinces have coverage rates over 80% (NL and PEI).
  • Cancers of the mouth and throat caused by HPV are rising dramatically among Canadian men and are poised to surpass the rate of cervical cancer in females, according to a 2016 report by the Canadian Cancer Society
  • In 2012, 3,760 Canadians were diagnosed with an HPV-associated cancer. This number was expected to rise to 4,375 in 2016.
  • About two-thirds of HPV-associated cancers were diagnosed in females.
  • About 1,200 Canadians died from an HPV-associated cancer in Canada in 2012.
  • Almost 40% of HPV-associated deaths in 2012 were attributed to cervical cancer and more than 30% to HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers.
  • The HPV vaccine is recommended for people who have been diagnosed with an HPV-related disease to prevent reinfection and the recurrence of disease, regardless of their age.

For more information contact:
Dolores Gutierrez, Communications & Marketing Officer
Canadian Public Health Association
Telephone: 613.725.3769, ext. 190

About the Canadian Public Health Association
Founded in 1910, the Canadian Public Health Association is the independent voice for public health in Canada with links to the international community. As the only Canadian non-governmental organization focused exclusively on public health, we are uniquely positioned to advise decision-makers about public health system reform and to guide initiatives to help safeguard the personal and community health of Canadians and people around the world. We are a national, independent, not-for-profit, voluntary association. Our members believe in universal and equitable access to the basic conditions that are necessary to achieve health for all.

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