The HPV vaccine protects even young women who haven’t been vaccinated, according to a CDC report

There is growing evidence that the HPV vaccine can protect even young women and girls who have not been vaccinated.

A new government study finds that human papillomavirus infections have dropped dramatically in vaccinated and unvaccinated adolescent girls and young women.

Data from a national database reveal an 88 percent decrease in the prevalence of the HPV strains targeted by the vaccine in girls ages 14 to 19 and an 81 percent decrease in young women ages 20 to 19. 24 years, compared to a period before 2006, when the vaccine was released in the United States, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday.

“This is really exciting,” said lead study author Dr. Hannah Rosenblum, a medical epidemiologist at the CDC. “This report shows the high efficacy of the vaccine.”

HPV, or human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US, according to the CDC. There are many different types of HPV, but certain strains can cause cervical cancer in women and head and neck and penile cancers in men and anal cancer in both men and women. In 2018, an estimated 23.4 million men and 19.2 million women in the US were infected with cancer-related strains of HPV. Most become infected in their late teens and early 20s.

The CDC recommends two doses of the HPV vaccine for all boys and girls ages 11 to 12, but says the vaccine can be given at age 9. Data from 2019 showed that 72 percent of girls ages 13 to 17 had received one or more doses of the vaccine, Rosenblum said. And 54 percent had completed the series of shots.

To take a closer look at the vaccine’s impact, Rosenblum and his colleagues turned to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES, an ongoing cross-sectional survey conducted by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, which monitors the health and nutrition of the civilian population. Demographic and HPV vaccination information was obtained during home interviews. Information on sexual behavior was obtained through personal computer-assisted interviews, while cervicovaginal samples collected by individuals were obtained from mobile examination centers.

The data revealed that between 2015 and 2018, among sexually active girls ages 14 to 19 who received at least one injection, the HPV strains targeted by the vaccine decreased by 97 percent compared to the pre-era era. the vaccine. Among sexually active women ages 20 to 24 who received at least one injection, the HPV strains targeted by the vaccine decreased by 86 percent compared to the period before 2006.

Among sexually active adolescents and young women who had not been vaccinated, there was also a decrease compared to before 2006. Among girls aged 14 to 19 years, infections with the HPV strains targeted by the vaccine decreased by 87 percent, and among young women ages 20-24 there was a 65 percent decrease in infections with the HPV strains targeted by the vaccine.

“This is great news,” said Dr. Stephanie Blank, director of oncology for Mount Sinai Health System. “When you are doing a clinical trial, you are not doing a 10-year study. This study shows the real impact of this vaccine ”.

‘Perfect example of herd immunity’

The new study provides a “proof of principle,” he said. “My main message is that more people should receive it, and the more they understand it, the better it will work. This is really the primary prevention of cancer. “

Parents and young adults should “take advantage of this phenomenal vaccine,” said Dr. Robert Ferris, director of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh. “The vaccine can prevent cancers like the anal cancer that Farrah Fawcett died of and throat cancers like the one that Michael Douglas received.”

“We don’t have all the cancer results yet, but this shows that HPV vaccination is a prevention tool against infection and [the associated] cancers and pre-cancers, ”Ferris said.

The finding that adolescents and young women who did not get the vaccine “have benefited from it, is a perfect example of herd immunity,” said Dr. Nina Shapiro, professor of head and neck surgery at the David School of Medicine. Geffen. at UCLA and author of “Hype: A Doctor’s Guide to Medical Myths.”

Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient number of a population is immune to a disease, either from vaccination or from a previous disease, so that even people who are not vaccinated are offered some protection, according to the CDC.

“Now that boys are also being immunized, we will begin to see a greater benefit from this vaccine for unimmunized girls,” Shapiro said. “Some parents don’t understand why 12-year-olds are given a vaccine to prevent a sexually transmitted disease. They are equating it to giving a 12-year-old a condom. But this is a vaccine that prevents cancer. “

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