Free HPV vaccine 'being encouraged in Australia'

Young women in Australia are being encouraged to take advantage of the current free cervical cancer vaccine on offer, it has been reported.

A spokesperson for the New South Wales Central West Division of General Practice, Dr Judy Ross, told the Parkes Champion Post that young women can start the three-shot course for free before June 30th.

Those starting the vaccinations before this date can complete the course before December 31st 2009, with the cost of the vaccination set at $450 from the beginning of 2010.

Dr Ross told the newspaper the vaccine and "continuing pap smears offers women the best protection" against cervical cancer.

"More than two-thirds of young women aged up to 26 years old have already accessed the vaccination, but the opportunity now exists for even more to take it up," she added.

"This is a safe and efficient way to protect against human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a leading cause of cervical cancer."

A recent study by the Pennsylvania department of public health in the US found that only 25 per cent of African-American adolescents had received the HPV vaccine.