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HPV vaccine reduces cancer-causing infection by 86 percent in UK

Staff Writer |
Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) 16 and 18 infections, which cause the majority of cervical cancer cases, decreased by 86% in women aged 16 to 21 who were eligible for the vaccination as adolescents between 2010 and 2016.

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The surveillance data from England was published today (Monday 18 June 2018) in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. Overall, declines were seen across 5 high-risk HPV types, which together cause around 90% of cervical cancer cases, as well as low-risk HPV types.

The results suggest that the HPV vaccination programme will bring about large reductions in cervical cancer in the future. Cervical cancer is currently the most common cancer in women under 35, killing around 850 women a year.

In addition, the programme has led to a marked decline in genital wart diagnoses.

The number of genital wart diagnoses in sexual health clinics fell in girls aged 15 to 17 by 89%, and in boys of the same age by 70%, between 2009 and 2017 as a result of herd immunity.

Genital warts are caused by some low-risk strains of HPV, which the current vaccine also protects against.

As well as seeing a significant reduction in the high-risk types 16 and 18, the study also showed clear declines in the prevalence of HPV31, HPV33 and HPV45, which are not included in the current vaccine.

This builds on existing evidence which suggests the vaccine also offers some cross-protection to unvaccinated women against related HPV types that can also cause cervical cancer.

Most HPV infections are cleared by the immune system with no symptoms, but some high-risk types of HPV (16 and 18) cause cervical cancer.

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