Just over a decade ago in 2008, the UK launched a nationwide campaign to immunize all girls aged 12 to 13 against two strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV) which are known to cause cervical disease and cancer in both men and women. Now, 11 years later, a study published in the British Medical Journal has found that this vaccination campaign has contributed to “a dramatic reduction” in cervical disease.
This, in turn, has significantly reduce the risk of cervical cancer for women throughout the UK.
According to the study, which analyzed the medical records of 138,692 women in Scotland, the number of women in the UK with the most severe form of pre-cancerous cells in their cervix has fallen by roughly 89 percent since 2008. Furthermore, the “herd immunity” effect has caused a measurable reduction in the number of unvaccinated women with cervical disease as well.
Meanwhile, in Australia, another nationwide HPV vaccination campaign has been so successful that the country could effectively eliminate cervical cancer within the next 20 years.
Here in the United States, however, HPV vaccination rates are far lower.
According to one recent estimate, only 35 percent of American adolescents are fully vaccinated against HPV by age 15, and only 16 percent are fully vaccinated by the recommended age of 13. By adopting a more aggressive approach to HPV vaccination, this report from the British Medical Journal suggests that the US could significantly reduce the risk of cervical disease and cancer among future generations of Americans.
To learn more about the HPV vaccine, feel free to give us a call or schedule your next gynecology exam at South Avenue Women’s Services today.