HPV Vaccine's “Real-World” Effectiveness

By warding off human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, HPV vaccines help prevent cervical cancer and other cancers associated with HPV infection. The first HPV vaccine, released in 2006, was quadrivalent, i.e., it protected against infection by four types of HPV including HPV 16 and HPV 18, which together account for most HPV-associated cancers. Although clinical trials found that the vaccine was effective, knowledge about its long-term impact on teens was limited.

In a study published online on August 23 in JAMA Network Open, researchers led by Robert Burk, M.D., Nicolas Schlecht, Ph.D., and Angela Diaz, M.D., report that the vaccine was effective in preventing HPV infection among approximately 1,450 participants aged 13 to 21 who were vaccinated between October 2007 and September 2019. The research team found that detection rates for the four vaccine-relevant types of HPV decreased year over year, although rates of detection increased over the years for some high-risk HPV types not covered by the vaccine. The authors note that screening for cervical cancer continues to be an important cancer-prevention measure, especially in communities where HPV infection is prevalent.

Dr. Burk is professor of pediatrics, of microbiology & immunology, of obstetrics & gynecology and women’s health, and of epidemiology & population health at Einstein, and an attending physician at Montefiore. Dr. Schlecht is professor of oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and clinical associate professor of epidemiology & population health, of medicine, and of pathology at Einstein. Dr. Diaz is director of the Mt. Sinai Adolescent Health Center in NYC. This work was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.