HPV vaccine cuts infection rates by two-thirds among U.S. teen girls

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine was officially introduced in 2006. According to a new study, the number of U.S. teenage girls with HPV infections has decreased by 64 percent for 10 years now. The HPV vaccine, also known as Gardasil, is created to protect girls against four different strains of the virus which are the main causes of cervical cancers.

The study, which was published on online on Feb. 22 in the journal Pediatrics, pointed out that among girls aged 14 to 19 who were given the vaccine, the rate of HPV infections dropped from 11.5 percent in 2003-2006 to 4.3 percent in 2009-2012. Meanwhile, for women aged 20 to 24, the prevalence of HPV was reduced from 18.5 per cent to 12.1 per cent.

In this study, the researcher from CDC used figures from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to compare HPV prevalence among U.S. females both before and after the introduction of HPV vaccine in 2006.

According to Dr. Lauri Markowitz, a medical epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this study has proved the positive effects of HPV vaccine among females in their 20s. HPV vaccine is incredibly effective, however, not many young people have been vaccinated. Research has found that only 42 percent of girls and 22 percent of boys between the ages of 13 and 17 were given HPV vaccine.

“We could see greater declines in HPV-related disease if we had greater coverage,” Markowitz said. “A very large percentage of cervical cancers could be prevented by the vaccine.”

Obviously, if more females are given the vaccine, the number of HPV infection cases will be reduced significantly. However, it’s not an easy task. There are several reasons why both doctors and parents are not interested in having the children vaccinated.

From the doctor’s point of view, discussing with parents about the importance of HPV vaccination for their kids may take a lot of time and patience because so many parents still believe that they are too young to be involved with sexually transmitted diseases. However, at the moment, 11 or 12 year old boys and girls are recommended to be given HPV vaccine by the CDC.

Additionally, some parents don’t want to get their kids vaccinated because they are afraid that vaccination may make their kids think that it is ok to have sex at the age. Others think that it’s much better to delay the vaccination until their kids are adolescents and sexually active. However, the fact is that the vaccine can work the best before the kids are sexually active and are exposed to HPV.

“We are starting to see reductions in the rates of HPV infection, and it’s important that we continue this trend,” Comkornruecha said. “Hopefully, we can wipe out a large percentage of HPV and prevent future sickness and death.”

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