The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee Recommends Human Papillomavirus Virus Vaccination Vaccine considered highly effective in preventing infections that are the cause of most cervical cancers.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted Thursday to recommend that a newly licensed vaccine designed to protect against human papillomavirus virus (HPV) be routinely given to girls when they are 11-12 years old. The ACIP recommendation also allows for vaccination of girls beginning at nine years old as well as vaccination of girls and women 13-26 years old. HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer in women.
According to the ACIP’s recommendation, three doses of the new vaccine should be routinely given to girls when they are 11 or 12 years old. The advisory committee, however, noted that the vaccination series can be started as early as nine years old at the discretion of the physician or health care provider. The recommendation also includes girls and women 13-26 years old because they will benefit from getting the vaccine. The vaccine should be administered before onset of sexual activity (i.e., before women are exposed to the viruses), but females who are sexually active should still be vaccinated.
“This vaccine represents an important medical breakthrough,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “As a result, these vaccine recommendations address a major health problem for women and represent a significant advance in women’s health. It has been tested in thousands of women around the world and has been found to be safe and effective in providing protection against the two types of HPV that cause most cervical cancers.”
Gardasil, manufactured by Merck, is the first vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer, precancerous genital lesions and genital warts due to HPV - ‘HPV causes genital warts in men and women. The vaccine is highly effective against four types of the HPV virus, including two that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer. Those who have not acquired HPV would get the full benefits of the vaccine. On average, there are 9,710 new cases and 3,700 deaths from cervical cancer in the United States each year.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common causes of sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world. More than 100 different types of HPV exist, most of which are harmless. About 30 types are spread through sexual contact. Some types of HPV cause genital warts - single or multiple bumps that appear in the genital areas of men and women including the vagina, cervix, vulva (area outside of the vagina), penis, and rectum. Many people infected with HPV have no symptoms.
There are high-risk and low-risk types of HPV. High-risk HPV may cause abnormal Pap smear results, and could lead to cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, or penis. Low-risk HPV also may cause abnormal Pap results or genital warts.
Health experts estimate there are more cases of genital HPV infection than any other STI in the United States. According to the American Social Health Association, approximately 5.5 million new cases of sexually transmitted HPV infections are reported every year. At least 20 million people in this country are already infected.
Revision date: June 21, 2011
Last revised: by Dave R. Roger, M.D.