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HPV Vaccine Reduces Cervical Cancer Cases Across Socio-Economic Groups

Context:

A major study funded by Cancer Research UK reveals that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is effectively reducing cases of cervical cancer across all socio-economic groups. Conducted by researchers at Queen Mary University of London, the study provides the longest follow-up on the effectiveness of England’s HPV vaccination program. The most significant prevention of cases is observed in more deprived groups, indicating the vaccine’s positive impact on public health outcomes.

Relevance:

GS II: Health

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. HPV Vaccine and Cervical Cancer
  2. Understanding Cervical Cancer

HPV Vaccine and Cervical Cancer:

  • The study reveals that the HPV vaccine is effectively reducing cases of cervical cancer across all socio-economic groups, with a greater impact observed in more deprived communities.
  • Due to the higher incidence of cervical cancer in deprived groups, the vaccine prevented more cases in these groups compared to less deprived ones.

Success of School-Based Vaccination:

  • The study underscores the significant success of the school-based vaccination program, indicating that well-implemented public health interventions can help mitigate health inequalities.

Reduction in Cervical Cancer Rates:

  • Over a span of 12 years, the HPV vaccine led to a nearly 90% reduction in cervical cancer rates.
  • Additionally, it decreased pre-cancerous conditions by approximately 95% among women vaccinated at 12-13 years old in England.

Effectiveness of Early Vaccination:

  • The study emphasizes that the HPV vaccine is much more effective when administered to children at 12-13 years old than later in life.
  • England introduced the HPV vaccination program in 2008, and the findings underscore the importance of early vaccination in preventing cervical cancer and pre-cancerous conditions.

Understanding Cervical Cancer

HPV Linkage and Persistence:

  • Nearly all cervical cancer cases are associated with specific strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus transmitted through sexual contact.
  • While the body typically clears HPV infections within two years, in some cases, the virus persists, leading to the transformation of normal cells into cancerous ones.

Global Impact:

  • Cervical cancer ranks as the second most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women aged 15-44 worldwide.
  • India shoulders a significant burden, contributing to about one-fifth of the global caseload, with approximately 1.23 lakh new cases and 67,000 deaths annually.

Preventive Measures:

  • Screening and vaccination are effective preventive measures against cervical cancer.
  • Despite this, there remains limited awareness among women, with less than 10% of Indian women undergoing screening.
  • It is recommended that all women aged 30-49 undergo cervical cancer screening, and adolescent girls receive the HPV vaccine.

Indigenous Vaccine Development:

  • CERVAVAC, India’s first domestically developed cervical cancer vaccine by Serum Institute of India (SII), offers promising solutions.
  • It is a quadrivalent vaccine effective against four cancer-causing HPV variants.
  • Based on virus-like particles (VLP), it triggers the production of antibodies against HPV proteins, akin to the hepatitis B vaccine.
  • Additionally, globally licensed vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, are available in India but are financially inaccessible to many.

Inclusion in Immunization Programs:

  • The development of an affordable and indigenous HPV vaccine positions it for inclusion in the government’s universal immunization program.
  • This move aims to enhance accessibility to cervical cancer prevention measures, contributing to reducing the disease burden in India.

-Source: The Hindu


June 2024
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