Unvaccinated women benefit from mass HPV immunizations
Women who have not received the cervical cancer injection may still benefit from a decreased risk if others have been vaccinated.
An American study has found that young women who had not received the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine were half as likely to develop the disease if others in their age group had been immunised.
The study, published in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics, compared two groups of sexually active teenagers from the city of Cincinnati, Ohio.
The first group were recruited in 2006 and 2007, after the vaccine had only just been made available. None of them had been vaccinated.
The second group were recruited in 2009 and 2010. Half of them had been vaccinated.
When the prevalence of HPV was measured, it was found that the overall rate of the virus had decreased by 58 per cent.
In the young women who had not received the jab, the rate was 49 per cent, compared to 69 per cent for those who had been vaccinated.
It is thought that certain high-risk strains of the virus are responsible for around 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases.
According to Cancer Research UK, cervical cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer for women under 35 in the UK.
However, the study seems to confirm predictions that the introduction of mass immunisation in schools in the UK will lead to a dramatic decrease in the cancer within the next 15 years.