HPV vaccines effective in reducing infections, precancerous warts

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"Because of our finding, we believe the World Health Organization call for action to eliminate cervical cancer may be possible in many countries if sufficient vaccination coverage can be achieved", said study author Marc Brisson.

Not only was the HPV virus affected, but anogenital wart diagnoses decreased significantly by 67% among girls aged 15 to 19 years, decreased by 54% among women aged 20 to 24 years, and decreased significantly by 31% among women aged 25 to 29 years.

Pre-cancerous growths have also reduced - by 51 per cent in girls aged 15-19 and 31 per cent in women aged 20-24.

Professor Marc Brisson, a member of the research team, said: "Because of our finding, we believe the World Health Organisation (WHO) call for action to eliminate cervical cancer may be possible in many countries if sufficient vaccination coverage can be achieved".

Vaccination against the virus that causes nearly all cervical cancer is having a major impact on stopping infections and should significantly reduce cases of the disease within a decade, researchers said on Wednesday.

The Kenya Network of Cancer Organisations has dismissed the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association's (KCDA) claims that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine increases the chances of women getting cancer.

It said the findings should help promote HPV vaccination worldwide in the face of such challenges as cost and competing budget priorities; inadequate supply; lack of awareness about the vaccine's effectiveness; and resistance to vaccination.

The CDC recommends that children receive the first dose of the HPV vaccine between 11 and 12 years of age, then the second dose six months to a year later.

A significant decrease was also seen in anogenital wart diagnoses and precancerous cervical lesions which can develop into cancer.

"We don't have a precise date".

Rates fell more in countries where a wider age group was vaccinated and where coverage was higher.

Some committee members said they did not want to send a misleading message that vaccination at a younger age is not important.

There were far fewer cases of genital warts, as well. In addition, the authors were unable to tease out the specific impact of different programme characteristics (e.g. vaccine used, number of age cohorts vaccinated).

Kathleen Schmeler, a gynecological oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center, noted that the vaccine may protect older adults from HPV strains to which they have not yet been exposed, but it will not protect them from previously acquired infections. These results are showing that the HPV infection rates are lowering after the vaccination program started.

The higher the CIN grade, the higher the risk of developing invasive cancer.

Researchers say Australia, Rwanda and some European countries have been leading the charge with national vaccination programs that provide the shots to schoolchildren at no cost, and these countries may become the first in the world to eliminate HPV and, thus, HPV-related cancers.

Ms Mochache says the vaccination will be provided as part of routine immunisation at health facilities and will also be made available through school outreach programmes.

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