Group pushes for vaccine

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By Vanessa Greco

Five Ryerson nursing students are asking the provincial government to help them prevent a leading cause of cervical cancer.

The third-year students want to reduce the cost of a vaccine protecting against strands of human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually-transmitted infection — making it more available to girls in high school.

“All girls should be protected against the virus, regardless of their income,” said Gisele Magtoto, a member of the group campaigning.

In fall 2007, the Ontario government began to offer the HPV vaccine to girls in grade eight at no cost.

If you aren’t in grade eight or covered by private insurance, the HPV immunization costs anywhere from $400 to $500.

For Kim Gottfried, director of the Ryerson Catholic Chaplaincy Centre, the vaccine is a family decision.

“There’s no opposition if parents feel it’s important for their child’s protection,” she said. “But mandatory or mass vaccination raises questions. Are we assuming all young girls will be sexually active?”

At Ryerson, each dose of the threepart HPV immunization is $150. Students covered under the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) health plan can receive 80 per cent off each vaccine.

The students collected 184 signatures — 316 away from their goal of 500.

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