HPV Vaccines Effective Against Infections, Warts & Perhaps Cancer

HPV is the most common sexually-transmitted infection globally. Most people are infected at some point.

3 min read

A new study offers new hope for patients of cervical cancer.

Vaccine for HPV (human papillomavirus), which causes cervical cancer, has been observed to be reducing “infections, genital and anal warts, and precancerous lesions in young women and girls in more than a dozen wealthy countries” as per a report in The Lancet.

Experts hope this will eventually cause a huge drop in the cases of cervical cancer worldwide.

The analysis included data from a dozen of other studies of at least 66 million females and males below the age of 30 who were living in 14 of the developed, wealthy countries of the world. The HPV vaccines in these 14 countries were introduced 12 years back i.e. in 2007.


The study states that the HPV vaccines can help both vaccinated and unvaccinated girls and boys if given to “enough young girls” since less sexually active people would be hosting the virus.

HPV is the most common sexually-transmitted infection (STD) globally. Most people are infected at some point in their lives.

In a report by The New York Times, one of the study’s authors, Marc Brisson, a biostatistician at Laval University in Quebec, said:

The World Health Organization’s calls to eliminate cervical cancer may be possible in many countries if sufficient vaccination coverage can be achieved.

Cervical cancer, mainly caused by HPV, is the leading cancer in Indian women, the second most common cancer in women worldwide, and the fifth most common cancer in humans.

In India, there are 74,000 deaths caused by cervical cancer and 1.32 lakh new cases diagnosed every year. Nearly 366 million Indian girls and women aged 15 years and above are at risk from cervical cancer.

Speaking to FIT earlier, gynaecologists vouched for the vaccine. Several studies have also been published which call it an effective option.

There is a vaccine that promises to prevent this deadly cancer, then why will you not take it? What is the hesitation? We vaccinate our children without even a second thought because they’ll protect them from some deadly infection. So why not this?
Dr Ranjana Sharma, Senior Consultant, Gynaecology, Apollo Hospital

HPV is a group of more than 150 related viruses. Most HPV infections are usually harmless and go away by themselves, but some types can lead to cancer or genital warts. Nearly all cervical cancer is due to HPV of two types, HPV16 and HPV18.

The reason to vaccinate young girls is not just that they aren’t sexual activity yet so they are a better lot. Otherwise also their age favours better immunity; younger the kid, better the immunity.
Dr Ranjana Sharma, Senior Consultant, Gynaecology, Apollo Hospital

To be most effective, the vaccine is recommended to be given between the ages of nine and 13. One obvious factor is to immunise before they get sexually active. But also, younger girls will develop immunity better.

If an adult who is not sexually active and is getting a shot, and a child is getting a shot, the vaccine is more effective in the latter, she adds.

The dose is also lesser for children between ages 9 and 11, they get two shots. From year 11 and above, three shots within 6 months are given.

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