HPV infections down 65% under cancer jab programme

A national vaccination programme in England has dramatically reduced the number of young women infected with the two HPV types responsible for most cervical cancers, a study has found.

The vaccination campaign has reduced the prevalence of HPV types that can cause cervical cancer
The vaccination campaign has reduced the prevalence of HPV types that can cause cervical cancer

Prevalence of HPV types 16 and 18, which cause 80% of cervical cancers, has fallen by two thirds in England since the HPV vaccination programme was introduced in 2008, according to research published in the journal Vaccine.

Experts said the findings added to confidence that the programme will reduce the number of cervical cancers.

The study, from researchers at Public Health England (PHE), analysed samples from 4,178 women aged 16-24 undergoing chlamydia screening in GP surgeries and sexual health clinics between 2010 and 2012.

The samples were tested for HPV and the results compared with those from a survey undertaken before the HPV vaccination programme began in 2008.

Researchers found that the prevalence of HPV types 16 and 18 fell from 19.1% before the programme was introduced to 6.5% afterwards.

Dr Kate Soldan, head of PHE’s HPV surveillance, said: ‘These data show that as expected the HPV immunisation programme in England is reducing HPV 16 and 18, and doing so very substantially. We observed a clear correlation between immunisation coverage and reduced type 16 and 18 HPV infections.

‘This adds to our confidence that the programme will achieve its aim of reducing cervical cancer.’

Latest PHE figure show vaccine coverage remains high, with around 86% of 12- to 13-year-olds receiving all three jabs.

All four UK nations have HPV vaccination programmes for 12- and 13-year-olds.

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