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Vital Signs: HPV vaccination plays important role in cancer prevention

January 5, 2018

The first vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) was introduced just over a decade ago. In those countries where vaccination rates are highest, the number of HPV infections, as well as HPV-related cancers, has dropped dramatically.

Australia was the first country to roll out a national vaccination program, providing the vaccine for free to girls ages 12 to 13 in 2007, and then to boys beginning in 2013. Within four to five years, there was an 80 percent decline in HPV infections, and precancerous abnormalities were reduced by 34 percent in vaccinated groups.

Unfortunately, in the U.S., the number of HPV-related precancerous and cancer diagnoses remains stagnant, with approximately 40,000 new cancer cases each year. This is due, in large part, to insufficient HPV vaccination. 

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