HPV Vaccine halves cervical cancer rates in 10 years

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the world’s first cancer vaccine and a report released last month has highlighted some pretty amazing consequences of that vaccine.

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, co-developed by Aussie legend Professor Ian Frazer, and first administered in Australia on 29 August 2006, is now provided for free to all 12 to 13 year old Australian children as part of the National HPV Vaccination Program.

The link between the virus infection and cervical cancer was first suggested by Australian pathologist Dr Colin Laverty in 1978, but it was another twenty years before Professor Frazer and his partner Dr Jian Zhou would go on to develop Gardasil, the HPV vaccine used globally today.

One in two of us will be infected with HPV in our lifetime. What’s worse is that HPV causes more than 70 percent of all cervical cancer cases (as well as increasing the risk of vulva, penile, anal, and throat cancers).

The recent review of the HPV vaccine has found that since 2006, with more than 187 million doses administered across 130 countries, the number of new cases of cervical cancer in women has halved and the number of HPV infections has fallen by as much as 90% in some areas.

“Observations from over the past 10 years are that the HPV vaccines, if delivered effectively to the majority of 10-12 year-old-girls in the developing world from today forward, should lead to the global elimination of new cervical and other HPV associated cancers by 2050,” Professor Frazer said.

Read more about how Australia has led the fight against cervical cancer here.