HP vaccine cuts cervical cancer in UK teens

15 April 2014 - 02:01 By Katharine Child

The prevalence of the HP-virus that causes cervical and oral cancer has decreased from one in five British girls to one in 15 following the widespread use of the HP vaccine in the UK.

Cervical cancer kills more women in South Africa than any other cancer, including breast cancer.

The South African government began making the HP vaccine available to schoolgirls aged nine to 12 last month - but is facing widespread resistance from parents.

Parents need to give their consent for the vaccine to be given.

But almost half of the parents contacted in Western Cape are refusing to allow their daughters to be vaccinated.

Western Cape health MEC Theuns Botha urged parents to learn about "the safety and benefits of the vaccine".

The HP-virus (human papillomavirus) causes about 80% of cervical cancers.

These can be prevented by vaccinating children before they are sexually active.

A study of 4186 women in the UK showed that girls aged 16 to 18 now have the lowest prevalence of the virus in the population when previously they had the highest.

The prevalence in the age group decreased from 19% to 6%.

David Mesher, an epidemiologist at Public Health England, said: "This study provides an early indication that the UK national HP immunisation programme is successfully reducing vaccine-type HP infections in sexually active young women in England, and also suggests that herd-immunity might also be benefiting non-vaccinated young women and men."