New study reveals dramatic impact of HPV vaccinations

UMMS faculty experts stress the need for inoculating all teens

By Bryan Goodchild and Ellie Castano

UMass Medical School Communications

June 20, 2013

Even though only about one third of teenage girls have received all three doses, the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) has drastically reduced the spread of the virus that causes 70 percent of all cervical cancers, according to a study published in the June issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases. The study shows that since it was introduced in 2006, HPV prevalence has been reduced by more than 50 percent among U.S. girls 14 to 19 years old. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director called the report a wake-up call.

“This report shows that HPV vaccine works well, and the report should be a wake-up call to our nation to protect the next generation by increasing HPV vaccination rates,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH. “Unfortunately only one third of girls aged 13 to 17 have been fully vaccinated with HPV vaccine. Countries such as Rwanda have vaccinated more than 80 percent of their teen girls. Our low vaccination rates represent 50,000 preventable tragedies—50,000 girls alive today will develop cervical cancer over their lifetime that would have been prevented if we reach 80 percent vaccination rates. For every year we delay in doing so, another 4,400 girls will develop cervical cancer in their lifetimes.”

UMMS faculty experts Erin Barlow, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology and pediatrics, and Anne Powell, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics, stress the importance of HPV vaccinations in this Expert’s Corner video.