New data from Public Health England (PHE) confirms that cancer causing human papillomavirus (HPV), HPV16 and 18 infections, are now at a very low level in young sexually active women in England following the introduction of the HPV vaccination in 2008.
The infections were found in less than 2% of 16 to 18 year old women between 2014 and 2018. In a sample of 584 young women tested in 2018, no HPV16 or 18 infections were detected. This is a reduction from 2008, when over 15% of young sexually active women were found to have these infections.
The current vaccine protects against HPV16, 18, 6 and 11 infections. The prevalence of HPV6 and 11, which cause 90% of genital warts, also fell for the first time in 16 to 18 year old women, from fluctuating around 7% to 10% between 2010 and 2017, to 4% in 2018. The prevalence of three other cancer-causing types, HPV31, 33 and 45, has also declined, suggesting the vaccine provides substantial cross-protection.
The first dose of the HPV vaccine is offered to 12 and 13 year-olds and the second dose is given routinely anytime between six to 12 months after. Two doses are needed to be fully protected. Eleven million doses of the vaccine have been given to young women in England, meaning over 80% of women aged 15 to 24 are protected.
Source: PHE, 22 January 2020