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16 Apr 2014 HPV vaccine programme leads to reduction in prevalence of high risk types among women in Scotland

An article published in the British Journal of Cancer today provides an encouraging insight into the early impact of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination among the target population:

By linking individual vaccination, screening and HPV testing records, Health Protection Scotland (HPS) and the University of Strathclyde have been able to determine the early impact of the immunisation programme on HPV infection. 

Dr Kevin Pollock, Senior Epidemiologist at HPS explained, “The preliminary findings are very exciting and demonstrate that the HPV vaccine is associated with a significant reduction in cervical prevalence of HPV types 16 and 18.

“Furthermore, the vaccine also provides cross-protection against three other high-risk HPV types; 31, 33 and 45. Together, these five HPV types are responsible for at least 80% of cervical cancers in Scotland.”

Since its introduction in 2008, researchers from HPS and the University of Strathclyde have monitored the impact of the HPV vaccine among women attending for cervical screening at age 20.

While these data are extremely encouraging, regular attendance at cervical screening remains important since the vaccine does not afford protection against all types of HPV.