HPV Prevention

While male circumcision can cut the risk of HPV infection in men by 30% and in their wives by 23%, and consistent condom use can cut the risk of HPV infection by 27% to 70%, the most effective intervention is vaccination.

Clinical trials show that vaccination against HPV effectively prevents against the strains of HPV that cause about 70% of cervical cancer (pubmed 21629249) and reduces high-grade cervical lesions (precursors to cancer) (text, pubmed 17671238). Consequently, HPV vaccination is now recommended by most national health organizations, including:

Vaccination campaigns have been underway since about 2007, and efforts are underway to monitor their safety and effectiveness:

Definitive evidence of actual cancer prevention is not expected until ten or twenty years after the start of the public vaccination campaigns - about 2018 or 2028 - but some health benefits will show up sooner.

Firstly, public campaigns using Gardasil already seem to be effective against genital warts:

Second, there is already a little evidence that HPV immunization campaigns are effective at reducing abnormal pap smears (a precuror to cancer): Finally, the vaccine won't do any good if people don't take it, so a number of studies have been done on public acceptance of HPV vaccination; here is a small sampling. More about the qualms some parents have about HPV vaccination here.

Merck is currently studying a HPV vaccine ("V503") that protects against 9 strains of HPV (HPV16, -18, -31, -33, -45, -52, -58, -6, and -11); it might become available in 2015. (See Nov 4 2013 press release, Oct 24 2013 press release)

Copyright 2011, 2012, 2013 Dan Kegel
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