HPV jab 'benefits unvaccinated people'

9 July 2012

Rates of cervical cancer in the population are falling, even among women who have not been vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), a new study reveals.

Research carried out by experts at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre, and published online in the journal Pediatrics shows that the prevalence of vaccine-type HPV decreased by 58 per cent between 2007 and 2010, after the introduction of HPV vaccinations.

The data indicated that there was a 69 per cent decrease among vaccinated participants, though surprisingly but also a 49 per cent drop among unvaccinated women.

According to Dr Jessica Kahn, a physician in the division of Adolescent Medicine at Cincinnati Children's and lead author of the study, this effect is due to something know as 'herd immunisation'.

This is a decrease in the general population of incidences resulting from the fact that more people are vaccinated, which means the virus does not spread as widely, even among those who have not had the jab.

Dr Kahn added: 'Two of these HPV types, HPV-16 and HPV-18, cause about 70 per cent of cervical cancer. Thus, the results are promising in that they suggest that vaccine introduction could substantially reduce rates of cervical cancer in this community in the future."

Posted by Edward Bartel

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