HPV-vaccinated women protect men from infection

August 4, 2016, Fresh Science
Credit: Fresh Science

A Melbourne study has found the first evidence of 'herd protection' from vaccinations against the cervical cancer-causing human papillomavirus (HPV).

Eric Chow from Alfred Health has found that women who vaccinate against HPV not only protect themselves, they also protect their from the virus.

There are over 100 different types of HPV, some of which are known to cause cancer. The disease is well known for its impact on women, but it can also cause , penile and in men.

In an 11-year study (2004 to 2015), Eric found a dramatic decline in the prevalence of vaccine-targeted types of HPV in young Australian men—from a 20 per cent prevalence in 2004, down to just three per cent in 2015.

These males were unvaccinated, suggesting that their vaccinated female partners were protecting them from the virus. This herd protection hasn't been seen in HPV before.

While the vaccination program for girls was brought into schools in 2007, the program wasn't introduced for boys until 2013.

The current vaccine available in Australia is effective against four types of HPV. But a new vaccine is on the way that will protect against another five types.

This is the first study in the world to assess the annual trends in vaccine-targeted HPV genotypes in men before and after the introduction of the female HPV vaccination programme. The research was published in the journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases in June.

Explore further: Expand HPV vaccination programs in Canada to include males

More information: Mark Schiffman et al. Control of HPV-associated cancers with HPV vaccination, The Lancet Infectious Diseases (2016). DOI: 10.1016/S1473-3099(16)30146-3

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nrbrkr
not rated yet Aug 05, 2016
"Dr. Harper explained in her presentation and in an NPR interview that the cervical cancer risk in the U.S. is already extremely low, and that vaccinations are unlikely to have any effect upon the rate of cervical cancer in the United States. Dr. Diane Harper, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, says the vaccine is being way oversold.

That's pretty striking, because Harper worked on studies that got the vaccines approved. And she has accepted grants from the manufacturers.

Harper changed her mind when the vaccine makers started lobbying state legislatures to require schoolkids to get vaccinated.

"Ninety-five percent of women who are infected with HPV never, ever get cervical cancer," she says. "It seemed very odd to be mandating something for which 95 percent of infections never amount to anything."

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