HPV declined in U.S. since vaccine for girls

Feb 22, 2016, 5:14 PM EST
Source: Global Panorama/flickr
Source: Global Panorama/flickr
In 2006 in the U.S., a vaccine debuted for the cervical cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV) in women. Since then, there has been a dramatic decrease in the infections among young women — 64% according to Reuters. The vaccine addressed the four preventable strains of the virus in girls aged 14 to 19. And there has been a 34% drop in the virus in women 20 to 24. Reuters writes:
"HPV vaccination has the potential to prevent up to three out of four HPV-associated cancers," said lead study author Dr. Lauri Markowitz of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
HPV is among the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Most infections don't cause symptoms and go away on their own, but the virus is a still leading cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide. It can also cause genital warts and lesions in the upper respiratory tract.
The news is likely to serve as a welcome energizer in the tumultuous struggle to encourage HPV vaccination in the United States. Despite the vaccine’s proven effectiveness, immunization rates remain low — about 40 percent of girls and 20 percent of boys between the ages of 13 and 17. That is partly because of the implicit association of the vaccine with adolescent sexual activity, rather than with its explicit purpose: cancer prevention. Only Virginia, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia require the HPV vaccine.
The CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends the three-dose HPV vaccine for girls, and as of 2011 also boys, 11 to 12 years of age. The vaccine is recommended for women and men up to ages 26 and 21, respectively.
The researchers found that 51% of girls 14 to 19 years old reported having received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine. Rates were 33% and 15% among the women 20 to 24 and 25 to 29, respectively. Among the 30- to 34-year-olds, only 3% said they had gotten the vaccine because they were generally too old to receive it by the time it was first recommended.