HPV vaccine has led to massive drops in cervical cancer

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Research published in The Lancet medical journal shows the human papilloma virus (HPV) jab has been hugely successful in reducing infections among young women and girls.

The study has raised hopes that cervical cancer can be eliminated “within decades”.

HPV, which is sexually transmitted, can cause cervical cancer as well as anogenital warts. Data from high-income countries shows vaccination has led to an 83 per cent reduction in HPV infections in 15 to 19-year-old girls over five to eight years. Among women aged 20 to 24, infections are down 66 per cent.

Major reductions also took place in anogenital warts and precancerous lesions, which can be the precursorto cervical cancer.

The World Health Organization is setting goals for reducing the number of cases of cervical cancer to no more than four per 100,000 of population.

Prof Marc Brisson from Laval University, one of the researchers, told The Guardian: “We’re working with the WHO, using mathematical modelling to determine when elimination would occur.

“We don’t have a precise date. High vaccine coverage has to be maintained. It depends on the country and how much coverage and screening there is.”

There is no data from less wealthy countries, where the highest numbers of women die from cervical cancer. In 2018, there were 569,000 cases of cervical cancer worldwide and 313,365 deaths, 80 per cent of which were in poorer countries.

This article was originally published in the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association publication, Lamp

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