Sometimes vaccines simply work, and sometimes they really work. Such is the case for human pappilomavirus (HPV), the causative pathogen for most cases of cervical cancer.
A study of more than 85 thousand native-born Australians revealed some very encouraging, and possibly even startling results.
In 2007, two HPV vaccines were approved in Australia Merck s Gardisil, and GlaxoSmithKline s Cervarix. The country began a campaign to provide HPV vaccination programs for girls and young women. The initiative was publicly funded and provided free vaccine to girls aged 12 to 13. Another program offered from 2007 to 2009 offered vaccinations to girls 13 to 18 and women 18 to 26. The results were nothing short of amazing.
In particular, the incidence of genital warts in adolescent and teenage girls declined by more than 90% in the first 4 to 5 years after the program began. Interestingly, although only girls received the vaccine, there was also a reduction of between by 50% and 80% decreases in the incidence of genital warts among heterosexual boys and young men.
The study s lead author Dr. Basil Donovan, of the University of New South Wales in Sydney commented, In 2011 no genital wart diagnoses were made among 235 women under 21 years of age who reported prior human papillomavirus vaccination. The significant declines in the proportion of young women found to have genital warts and the absence of genital warts in vaccinated women in 2011 suggests that the human papillomavirus vaccine has high efficacy outside the trial setting. Large declines in diagnoses of genital warts in heterosexual men are probably due to herd immunity.
ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom comments, to see such a reduction in both the prevalence and transmission of a serious infectious disease within 6 years of the introduction of effective vaccines is a great example of why people should welcome, rather than fear, vaccines. It would be impossible to come up with a more convincing argument than this study has provided. Let s hope that the U.S. is paying attention.