New research has found that the HPV vaccine can reduce cervical cancer cases by almost 90%.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide, killing more than 300,000 each year.
How does the HPV vaccine protect against cancer?
The HPV vaccine, called Gardasil, protects against nine types of HPV.
They include two that cause almost all cervical cancers, those that cause most anal cancers, and some genital and head and neck cancers.
Studies have shown that the vaccine protects against HPV infection for at least 10 years, although experts hope that the protection will last much longer.
Published in The Lancet, it looked at what happened after the vaccine for girls was introduced in England in 2008.
Who can get the HPV vaccine?
The HPV vaccine works best if girls and boys get it before they come into contact with HPV (that is, before they become sexually active). This is because the vaccine can only prevent an infection, it cannot clear the virus from the body once it has been contracted.
Viruses are so widespread that vaccination must target children before they become sexually active.
What is HPV?
HPV (short for human papillomavirus) is the name given to a very common group of viruses.
Most people, however, will not know they are infected and their bodies will clear the virus without treatment.
High-risk types of HPV, on the other hand, can cause abnormal tissue growth that can lead to cancers.
Who gets HPV and is it transmitted sexually?
It is very easy to contract, it is very contagious, and it is spread by close skin-to-skin contact.
Up to 80% of people are exposed to HPV by the age of 25.
In most cases, people are infected for 18 months to two years.
Technically it is not a sexually transmitted disease, as it is not transmitted through sexual fluids, in the same way as diseases. like gonorrhea.
However, it is often transmitted during sexual contact, including touch.
How widespread is the launch of the HPV vaccine around the world?
Almost 90% of cervical cancer deaths in 2018 occurred in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In these countries, cervical cancer is often not identified until it is further advanced and symptoms develop.
More than 100 countries have introduced the HPV vaccine.
However, by 2020, less than 25% of low-income countries and less than 30% of lower-middle-income countries had introduced the vaccine, compared with 85% of high-income countries.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in Africa, but it is the deadliest, says the WHO.
Inadequate screening programs, limited access to treatment services, and questions about vaccines contribute to this.
In the first year, it reached nine out of 10 girls eligible for the vaccine, a result that experts cite as a model for other countries.
How is the vaccine obtained in the UK?
Two injections are given in the upper arm at least six months apart.
- On England and Welsh, Girls and boys ages 12 to 13 are routinely offered their first HPV vaccine in year 8. The second dose is offered 6 to 24 months later
- On Scotland, students receive the vaccine from 11 to 13 years old in S1
- On North Ireland pupils receive the vaccine from 11 to 12 years of age in Year 8.
According to the NHS, children who miss the HGV vaccine in Year 8 will be offered in the next academic year. All young people can also get the free vaccine on the NHS until they turn 25.
Should women continue to attend cervical screening?
Although the vaccine appears to dramatically reduce the chances of developing cervical cancer, it does not protect against all types of HPV.
Therefore, it is important that women also have a regular cervical smear once they turn 25 years old.