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Vaccine success for cervical cancer: study reports fall in HPV infections

Since the introduction of the HPV vaccine in England in 2008, Public Health England (PHE; London, UK) have reported an 86% decrease in HPV infections in women aged 16–21. With these promising results, experts predict that the vaccine could eventually lead to the eradication of cervical cancer.

In a recent study, published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, PHE scientists report the prevalence of HPV in women attending chlamydia screening between 2010 and 2016.

HPV DNA testing was completed for 15,459 vulva-vaginal swab specimens from women aged 16–24. The scientist compared how type-specific HPV prevalence changed over time in vaccinated and non-vaccinated individuals and the association with vaccine coverage.

Prevalence of HPV16/18 decreased from 8.2% to 1.6% in 16–18 year olds and from 14% to 1.6% in 19–21 year olds. Prevalence of HPV31/33/45 also declined.

Vaccine effectiveness was also evaluated for women with known vaccination status. Vaccine effectiveness was calculated at 82% for HPV16/18 and at 48.7% for HPV31/33/45.

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With such successful results, experts expect to see a significant decrease in cervical cancer. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, an independent expert advisory committee, have advised that vaccinating boys will be cost-effective.

Source: Mesher D, Panwar K, Thomas SL et al. The impact of the national HPV vaccination program in England using the bivalent HPV vaccine: surveillance of type-specific HPV in young females, 2010–2016. J. Infect. Dis. doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiy249 (2018).