HPV vaccination demonstrates considerable impact

A recent meta-analysis, published in the Lancet, on the impact of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has shown it has considerable positive impact in high income countries.

The meta-analysis used recent evidence from 65 articles on the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine from 14 high income countries that had introduced the vaccine since 2007, which gave coverage of 66 million young women and men <30 years of age.

Results show an 83% reduction in HPV 16 and 18 infections in young women aged 15–19 years, with a 66% reduction in women aged 20–24. The success of the vaccine mean it has also given greater protection to unvaccinated young men and boys, as well as older women, as a result of herd immunity. The incidence of anogenital warts young women aged 15–19 decreased by 67%, while it dropped by 54% in those aged 20–24. In young men, there was a 48% reduction in incidence of anogenital warts in those aged 15–19 years, with a 32% reduction in men aged 20–24 years.

In the UK, the HPV vaccination programme is currently available for girls and young women aged 12–18 years. In September 2019, the programme will also be introduced to vaccinate boys aged 12–13 years; however, there is an ongoing campaign to extend this to boys aged up to 18 years. Vaccinating only girls provides inadequate protection for boys and virtually no protection for men who have sex with men.

In the United States, there has been a recent recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices to recommend the HPV vaccine in all males and females aged 11–26 years. 

Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said on the results: ‘We’re lucky to have the HPV vaccination programme here in the UK, and this study supports the imminent rollout of the gender-neutral HPV vaccine. However, this study also shows the urgent need for all countries without a vaccination programme to be supported in establishing one.

‘This study furthers the growing evidence to counteract those who don’t believe that this vaccine works, which is now extremely encouraging. We sincerely hope this will boost public faith in the HPV vaccine so that more lives can be saved and we get closer to a world where cervical cancer is a thing of the past.’

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