HPV vaccine has reduced cervical cancer rates by 87% in women, a study finds

The study published Wednesday in The Lancet magazine estimates that by mid-2019, there were 450 fewer cases of cervical cancer and 17,200 fewer cases of pre-cancer than expected in the vaccinated population.

Researchers from Kings College London and the British government looked at data on population-based cancer records in the UK between January 2006 and June 2019 for seven groups of women, comparing those who were vaccinated with those who were not.

They looked at data on the Cervarix vaccine, which protects against two strains of human papillomavirus or HPV causing cancers. Newer vaccines sold under the Gardasil brand protect against even more cancer viruses.

Of the three groups that were vaccinated, each was vaccinated at different ages. One group was vaccinated at the age of 12-13, another at 14-16, and another at 16-18. Those vaccinated at the earliest ages were the most protected, the team reported. Those who received the shot between the ages of 14 and 16 saw a 62% reduced rate, and rates were reduced by 24% among those vaccinated between 16 and 18.

“This study provides the first direct demonstration of the impact of the UK HPV vaccination campaign on the cervical cancer incidence, showing a large reduction in the cervical cancer rate in vaccinated cohorts,” said study co-author Dr Kate Soldan of the UK Health Security Agency. .

“This represents an important step forward in the prevention of cervical cancer. We hope that these new results will encourage use, as the success of the vaccine program depends not only on the effectiveness of the vaccine but also on the proportion of the population. vaccinated. “

Cervical cancer is rare among young women, so it is still too early to determine the full effect of HPV immunizations on general cervical cancer rates. The UK also stopped using the HPV vaccine in this study in 2012. Now instead of the Cervarix vaccine, the UK is using the Gardasil vaccine instead.

Last year the World Health Organization launched the Global Strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer, the first global commitment to eradicate cancer, setting a goal to fully vaccinate 90% of girls against HPV by the age of 15.

In January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also launched a campaign to increase HPV vaccination. The campaign specifically targeted states with some of the lowest HPV vaccinations, including South Carolina, Texas and Mississippi.

In 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics found that HPV vaccination is improving, but less than half of young adults in the United States have received one or more doses, and HPV vaccination has not yet reached the rate of others. vaccines. The CDC began recommending the HPV vaccine for girls 11-12 years old in 2006. 2021 CDC report found that cervical cancer rate in the United States has decreased significantly thanks to the HPV vaccine.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States. While it usually resolves on its own, persistent HPV infection puts women at increased risk of cervical cancer, cancer of the back of the throat, and anogenital cancer. HPV also puts men at increased risk of anal, penile and throat cancer.

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