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HPV vaccine prevents 90% of cervical pre-cancer cases in Scotland, research shows

Published on 04/04/19 at 09:43am

Routine vaccination of girls in Scotland against HPV has led to a dramatic drop in cases of cervical cancer, according to a paper published in the BMJ.

The vaccine has almost eliminated cases of cervical pre-cancer in young women since the immunisation programme was introduced ten years ago, as the number of cases fell by as much as 90%, the research says.

The study, conducted by researchers from Strathclyde, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow Caledonian universities, said that Scotland’s HPV vaccination programme had led to “a dramatic reduction in preinvasive cervical disease”

The impressive figures confirm that “the HPV vaccine should significantly reduce cervical cancer in the next few years.”

“We assessed 140,000 women in this study and because we can link status of vaccination to the disease its impact is indisputable,” the paper says.

While scientists thought the vaccine would eliminate two forms of HPV (which are responsible for around 80% of pre-cancerous conditions) the researchers found that the vaccine protected against another three types of the sexually transmitted infection and thus eliminated 90% of cervical pre-cancer in Scotland.

Uptake of the vaccine is around 90% in Scotland. However, unvaccinated women also showed lower rates of the disease, suggesting the vaccination programme had created substantial ‘herd protection’ in Scotland.

Dr Kevin Pollock, of Glasgow Caledonian University, commented: “The main message is that the vaccine works. As long as the high uptake continues, the virus has got nowhere to go and it is being eliminated. We assessed 140,000 women in this study and because we can link status of vaccination to the disease its impact is indisputable.”

Louis Goss

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