Human papillomavirus or HPV, is the most common sexually transmitted infectionand from genital warts to cancer, its many types can cause a wide range of health problems. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer caused by HPV and kills more than 300,000 women each year.
Cervical cancer is treatable if caught early and treated, and fortunately there are safe and reliable vaccines that can stop it from happening in the first place. In fact, since almost all types of cervical cancer are caused by viruses, vaccination can almost completely eliminate the disease.
And now, what has been hailed as a “historic” discovery based on the first real data, it has been shown that the HPV vaccine reduces cervical cancer by nearly 90 percent among women who received a prick when they were at 12 or 13, which brings hope to thousands and shows a big step forward in the prevention of cervical cancer.
The real-world effects of the HPV vaccine
Researchers from Kings College London and the British government studied population-based data from cancer registries for seven groups of women in the UK between January 2006 and June 2019, comparing those who received the Cervarix vaccine, which protects against two strains of HPV. , with those who are not of different ages.
Each of the three groups that were vaccinated was immunized at a different age. One group was vaccinated between the ages of 12 and 13, another between 14 and 16, and another between 16 and 18. According to the findings published in The lancet medical journal, those who were vaccinated at a young age were the most protected. Those vaccinated between the ages of 14 and 16 had a 62 percent lower rate, while those vaccinated between the ages of 16 and 18 had a 24 percent lower risk.
The vaccine that works best before people are exposed to the virus is less effective for girls who are vaccinated at an older age, as more of them have been sexually active and have therefore been exposed to the virus before being exposed to the virus. vaccinated. After all, the vaccine can only prevent infection; cannot cure the virus after it has been caught.
Overall, researchers estimate that by mid-2019, there were 450 fewer cases of cervical cancer and 17,200 fewer cases of precancerous diseases than expected among the vaccinated population. This may be just the tip of the iceberg, as vaccinated people are still too young to have cancer, indicating that the numbers may rise over time. In addition, the study suggests that those who have been vaccinated may require significantly fewer examinations for cervical screening.
Get to know the enemy
HPV can infect anyone who is sexually active, and you may even develop symptoms years after having sex with an infected person, making it difficult to know when you first became infected.
In most cases, HPV goes away on its own without causing problems, but it can also expose women to increased risk for cervical cancer, cancer of the back of the throat and anogenital cancer and men at risk for cancer of the anus, penis and throat.
As a result, more than 100 countries have started using HPV vaccines as part of The plans of the World Health Organization to eliminate cervical cancer. The main study suggests that all countries should start vaccinating boys and girls in order to achieve high immunity; however, the uptake and availability of HPV vaccines remains a problem.
“Even in a rich country like England with free access to HPV immunization, absorption has not reached the 90 percent target for vaccinating 15-year-old girls as set by the WHO.” writes gynecologists Maggie Cruixhank and Michaela Grigore.
For example, in the United States, each dose of the vaccine can cost about $ 250 if you do not have insurance and need three injections to have protection. according to Planned Parenthood. In addition, nearly 90 percent of the 300,000 deaths caused by cervical cancer each year occur in poor and middle-income countries with limited access to cervical cancer screening. In some other countries, women are not even aware of the problem and it may be too late to find out. Combined with appropriate education and state aid, vaccination will hopefully have a greater impact in these countries, potentially eradicating the disease from the face of the earth.
It should be noted that this study is not the last word on the vaccine, as there are still questions to be answered about how long the protection lasts and whether a mid-life booster is needed.
However, such findings, as Cancer Research UK CEO Michelle Mitchell said, “show the power of science. It is a historic moment to see the first study showing that the HPV vaccine also has will continue to protect thousands of women from the development of cervical cancer. “