Human papillomavirus immunisation with one of the vaccines available can give “strong and sustained” protection against genital warts and pre-cancerous growths of the cervix, international research has found.
The UK vaccination programme uses the bivalent vaccine Cervarix, which protects against HPV serotypes 16 and 18. Subjects in the current study received three doses of the quadrivalent vaccine Gardasil, which protects against HPV serotypes 6, 11, 16, and 18.
More than 17,000 women from 24 countries took part in two studies, published in the BMJ. They found the vaccine prevented between 96 and 100 per cent of low-grade lesions attributable to HPV types for up to four years.
The authors said: “These lesions occur shortly after infection and a reduction in these lesions will be the earliest clinically noticeable health gain to be realised by HPV vaccination.
“Low-grade cervical and vulvovaginal lesions are important from a public health perspective, as the diagnosis, follow-up, and treatment of these common lesions are associated with substantial patient anxiety, morbidity, and healthcare costs.”
The UK government controversially chose Cervarix over Gardasil in 2008, amid claims that it had made the decision based on cost.