The vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) infections has helped decrease HPV rates among teenage girls in the United States by more than sixty percent, a new study suggests.
Six years after the introduction of the HPV vaccine in 2006, the prevalence of human papillomavirus in American girls between the ages of fourteen and nineteen has dropped by 64 percent, according to the researchers.
Dr. Lauri E. Markowitz, lead author of the study and a researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that the HPV vaccine appears to be very effective.
In the United States, human papillomavirus infections are the most common sexually transmitted infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated. The virus goes away on its own in most cases. However, in people who have persistent infections, the virus can lead to genital warts or even caner, such as cancers of the cervix, anus, penis, and oral cavity.
In the new study – published Monday (Feb. 22) in the journal Pediatrics – the researchers looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an annual survey conducted by the CDC, in which people in the United States undergo physical exams and are also interviewed. The researchers focused on the data that showed the percentage of teenage girls with human papillomavirus infections between 2003 and 2006 – before in introduction of the vaccine – and then between 2009 and 2012 (a few years after the vaccine was introduced).
The results showed that 11.5 percent of girls ages fourteen to nineteen were infected with human papillomavirus before the vaccine was introduced. From 2009 to 2012, the percentage decreased to 4.3 percent, according to the researchers.
Moreover, the prevalence of HPV infections in women ages twenty to twenty-four decreased from 18.5 percent before the vaccine was introduced, to about 12.1 percent after it was introduced, the researchers found.
Since the introduction of the vaccine in 2006, three types of human papillomavirus vaccines have been available. Researchers say that, based on clinical trials, all three vaccines are effective in preventing HPV infections. One of the vaccines in bivalent, meaning that it targets two strains of the human papillomavirus. The second one is quadrivalent and targets four strains.
In 2014, a third vaccine, called 9-valent HPV vaccine, was licensed. This vaccine targets the same strains as the quadrivalent, as well as five additional HPV strains, the researchers explained. Over the study period, almost everyone in the United States received the quadrivalent vaccine, according to the researchers.
A previous research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also found that the rate of HPV infections among teenage girls has decreased after the vaccine was introduced. The new study also shed light on the impact that the vaccine has among women in their early 20s, the researchers said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the HPV vaccine should be administered to girls and boys ages eleven to twelve in three doses over the course of six months. Data from the CDC has shown that only 22 percent of boys and 42 percent of girls between the ages of thirteen and seventeen have received the three recommended doses of HPV vaccine.
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