Statement on the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine
In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) licensed the first vaccine for human papillomavirus virus (HPV). Approval of a second, similar vaccine is expected. In June 2006, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that the new vaccine be routinely given to all girls when they are 11-12 years old. The ACIP recommendation also allows for vaccination of girls beginning at age 9, as well as vaccination of girls and women 13-26 years old. These recommendations have been adopted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
IDSA supports ACIP’s recommendations for use of the HPV vaccine, given the potential to protect women and girls from infections that can lead to life-threatening disease. The vaccine protects against genital HPV infection, a family of viruses that are asymptomatic but can lead to cervical cancer, a major form of cancer in women.
Nearly 10,000 new cases of cervical cancer occur in the United States each year, and 3,700 deaths are attributed to cervical cancer. Worldwide, there are more than 470,000 new cases of cervical cancer each year, and 233,000 deaths.
The approved HPV vaccine was tested in more than 11,000 women and girls ages 9-26 years. Clinical trials found that the vaccine is 100 percent effective in protecting against the two HPV types that are responsible for approximately 70 percent of cases of cervical cancer in the U.S. The vaccine has a strong safety record based on clinical trials. As with all vaccines, it will be important to monitor safety closely now that the vaccine has been recommended for widespread use.
Experts recommend giving the vaccine to girls before they become sexually active. In the United States, more than 60 percent of high school students have had intercourse by 12th grade, and about 30 percent by the age of 11 or 12, many of them contracting genital HPV within a few months after beginning sexual activity.
The vaccine that was approved in 2006 also offers significant protection against genital warts, which are caused by different HPV types. Genital warts are the most common sexually transmitted infection in the U.S., affecting 6.2 million men and women per year. Many states are considering requiring HPV vaccination for school entry. IDSA emphasizes that state legislators considering the matter of HPV vaccination should assess the need for funding for purchase and delivery of the vaccine, and systems and programs for achieving high coverage.
For more information about HPV and the HPV vaccine, see the following:
National Network for Immunization Information (NNii): www.immunizationinfo.org/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: www.cdc.gov/std/HPV/
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Vol 56, March 12, 2007: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/rr/rr5602.pdf
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