20
Jun
13

6.20.13 … HPV Vaccine: game changer …

HPV Vaccine, game changer,  NYTimes.com: “For every year the rate lags, another 4,400 girls will develop cervical cancer in their lifetimes, he said.”

Infection with the viral strains that cause cancer dropped to 3.6 percent among girls ages 14 to 19 in 2010, from 7.2 percent in 2006, a new study has found. The vaccine protects against strains of the HPV virus that cause 70 percent of cervical cancers.

“These are striking results,” said Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “They should be a wake-up call that we need to increase vaccination rates. The bottom line is this: It is possible to protect the next generation from cancer, and we need to do it.”

The study, published in the June issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, covered the years 2003 to 2010. Its findings were based on a national survey that is conducted every two years and considered the gold standard on health indicators. Government health workers did face-to-face interviews and collected vaginal swabs from more than 8,000 girls and women ages 14 to 59 that were sent to the C.D.C. for evaluation.

The decline surprised public health experts because vaccination rates in the United States are still relatively low. Only about a third of teenage girls have been vaccinated with the full course of three doses, far lower than in other rich countries like Denmark and Britain, where vaccination rates are above 80 percent. Even Rwanda, a developing country in central Africa, has reached 80 percent.

Dr. Frieden said the low vaccination rate in the United States means that 50,000 girls alive today will eventually develop fatal cervical cancer, deaths that could have been prevented if the country’s rate had been at 80 percent. For every year the rate lags, another 4,400 girls will develop cervical cancer in their lifetimes, he said.

Health officials offered several possible explanations for why the drop was so sharp despite the fact that most teenage girls in the United States are still not fully vaccinated.

One possible reason is a phenomenon known as herd immunity, in which vaccinated people reduce the overall prevalence of the virus in society, reducing the chances that unvaccinated people would have sex with someone who is infected. Another is the unexpected effectiveness of a partial dosage of the vaccine, Dr. Markowitz said. About half of teenage girls in the United States have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine.

via HPV Vaccine Is Credited in Fall of Teenagers’ Infection Rate – NYTimes.com.


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