CDC names HPV 4th biggest threat to US health in 2014


The debate surrounding the Human papillomavirus (HPV) has been around for years, and the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has named HPV the 4th largest health threat the US will face in 2014. So how can authorities increase the number of people vaccinated above the mere 34.8% of girls between the ages of 13 and 17 who had actually completed the three-dose course?

‘School-based vaccination is becoming a more widely considered method of delivering HPV immunizations to an adolescent population’ a paper published today in Vaccines is suggesting. The paper conducts a review of the existing school HPV immunization programs that are achieving high vaccination rates in 9-13 year-old girls across the world.

But is the public ready for a step up in the number of health care systems offering HPV immunizations in schools?

But with statistics showing that effective HPV immunization programs can work dramatically well (the number of HPV infections in the UK has fallen by 65%) it seems more important than ever to increase vaccination coverage in young girls. But are these statistics enough to convince parents that the vaccination is right for their young sons and daughters? What may make things even more complicated is recent research adding more weight to the claim that ‘the earlier the better’ is the case when it comes to the HPV vaccine.

Vaccines in patients who satisfy three particular conditions are likely to be far more effective.

  • No high-risk vaccine-specific HPV DNA on the cervix at the time of vaccination
  • No antibodies against the high-risk vaccine-specific HPVs in the serum of the patient at the time of vaccination
  • The patient’s cervical cytology is, and has been normal at the time of vaccination

And given the nature of these criteria doctors are advising that girls and boys should get vaccinated as soon as possible, which can be as young as 9 years-old in the US.

So what can we do to improve coverage? Well a paper published in this months JAMA Pediatrics publication suggests that it is a lack of knowledge, inadequate coupled with insurance coverage that is proving to be the biggest barrier to undeserved populations. What is suggested then is that we should place some responsibility in the hands of   doctors. By getting doctors to recommend and explain HPV to patients insurance coverage will improve whilst public approval should improve.

See the report on the role doctors can play in improving HVP vaccination coverage here.

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