March 01, 2011 6:00AM
A QUARTER of young girls are forsaking a life-saving cervical cancer vaccine because of ignorance.
Two studies suggested an alarming lack of knowledge was to blame for many girls aged 12-13 not taking up the vaccine, Cancer Council spokeswoman Kate Broun said.
The Gardasil jab, which protects against two strains of the human papillomavirus, which cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers, is provided free to schoolgirls under a Federal Government program.
Of the nearly 3000 year 10 and 12 students interviewed in one study, only a third had even heard of the virus, while more than half did not know it was sexually transmitted, and nearly two-thirds were not aware that it caused cervical cancer.
Given the low levels of knowledge in older schoolgirls, it would be even less in those aged 12-13 who were deciding whether to have the vaccine, Ms Broun said.
The second study found parents knew little about the vaccine, with many unsure whether their daughter should have it.
Some parents did not trust medical experts who favoured the vaccine and were concerned it “condoned” early sexual activity, despite evidence to the contrary.
Infection was common, and typically had no symptoms, but it could have very serious consequences which was why the vaccine was so important, Ms Broun said.