Cervical screens continue despite HPV jab extension

Women should continue to come forward for the national cervical cancer screening programme in England for several years to come despite the introduction of human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination, according to the public health minister.

The DoH has agreed to introduce HPV vaccination into the childhood immunisation programme for all girls aged between 12 and 13 years from September this year. A catch up programme will also be offered to girls up to the age of 18.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) anticipates that the introduction of HPV vaccines for schoolgirls could cut rates of cervical cancer by 70 per cent and cases of genital warts by 95 per cent.

But public health minister Dawn Primarolo, speaking last week in the House of Commons, said that the screening programme would continue because ‘the vaccine only offers protection against 70 per cent of cancer causing HPV types'.

Screening will still need to be offered to women up to the age of 64 who will not have been vaccinated, she said.

Currently, all women aged 25-64 in England are eligible for a free cervical screening test every three to five years.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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