The HPV vaccine, introduced about a decade ago, is working at a population level to beat back the most common sexually transmitted infection, according to a new CDC study.
The study analyzed some 5,000 young females – and found a dramatic reduction in key strains of the human papillomavirus,according to the results, in the journal Pediatrics.
But immunization rates still remain low nationwide, they added.
“Within six years of vaccine introduction, there was a 64 percent decreased in (four types) of HPV prevalence among females aged 14 to 19 years and a 34 percent decrease among those aged 20 to 24 years,” conclude the scientists. “This finding extends previous observations of population impact in the United States and demonstrates the first national evidence of impact among females in their 20s.”
The scientists took swabs from 3,325 females aged 14 to 34 in the pre-vaccine era, the years 2003 to 2006. They compared the prevalence of the strains of the virus with 2,473 females in the same age range from 2009 to 2012, the vaccine era.
The reduction in the virus at the samples population was even more startling than had been expected, they said.
Caveats to the success exist, however. The vaccine only covers the most dangerous and common strains. Prevalence of any HPV strain actually went up in the vaccine era – from 54.4 percent to 58 percent.
National immunization rates are also below 40 percent for teenage girls, partly due to parental resistance. The controversy since the CDC recommended the vaccine for girls in 2006 has focused mostly on adults’ reluctance to consider their children becoming sexually active, according to multiple reports. But there have also been debunked rumors of the vaccine carrying its own dangers, according to the American Cancer Society.
HPV is the cause of around 60 percent of all cervical cancers in the U.S. – a disease which strikes about 12,000 U.S. women a year and kills around 4,000.
Since 2011, the CDC has also recommended the HPV vaccine for boys. The virus strains that are carcinogenic can also cause cancers of the vulva, penis, anus and throat, according to the CDC.
Filed Under: Drug Discovery