The percentage of teen girls who are infected with the types of human papilloma virus (HPV) covered by the HPV vaccine has dropped significantly since vaccination was introduced in the US in 2006, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). HPV vaccines protect against high-risk types of the virus that cause most cervical cancers. The virus is also linked to cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and throat.
The researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) to compare HPV infection rates among teens and young women before and after 2006. The CDC’s NHANES program began in the 1960s to collect health information about participants in order to determine the prevalence of major diseases and risk factors for diseases.
The study found that among girls ages 14 to 19 years, prevalence of the HPV types targeted by the vaccines dropped from 11.5% in 2003-2006 to 4.3% in 2009-2012. That’s a decrease of 64%. The researchers also found HPV rates in women ages 20 to 24 went from 18.5% in 2003-2006 to 12.1% in 2009-2012, a 34% drop. The vaccine is recommended for girls in their teens and is still fairly new, so vaccination rates are lower for women in their 20s. Boys were not included in the study, but will be included in future studies, according to the researchers.
The study was published February 22, 2016 in the journal Pediatrics.