HPV Vaccination Rates Still Low in Canada

Despite the fact that the HPV vaccine is freely provided in Canada as part of a school-based program designed for young girls, there is still a low vaccination rate in certain regions, which is now explained by the fact that a number of parents evaluate the level of sexual activity of their young daughters as low. The conclusions are from a recent study conducted at Queen’s University and McGill University.

The HPV vaccine protects women against four different types of HPV, a DNA virus responsible for the development of cervical cancer and anogenital warts. However, the vaccinations rates are lower than expected, regardless being free for school-aged girls, according to an annoucement from Queen’s University.

“We observed a large and significant reduction in cervical dysplasia, a precursor to cervical cancer, in girls as young as 14-17 years,” explained in a press release the researchers Leah Smith and Linda Lévesque, from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) at Queen’s University. The study entitled “The Early Benefits of Human Papillomavirus Vaccination on Cervical Dysplasia and Anogenital Warts” was published in the Pediatrics journal.

In addition, the investigators also demonstrated that the vaccine is effective in reducing of genital warts among the population in study. “The fact that these benefits were observed in such a young age group strengthens current recommendations that vaccination should not be delayed,” added Smith, who is the lead author of the study.

The research included follow-up analysis on 260,493 girls, being half of them eligible for receiving the vaccine through the publicly funded Grade 8 HPV vaccination program in Ontario, during its first two years. The investigators concluded that from the 2,436 cases of cervical dysplasia verified, there was a 44 percent decrease in the number of cases reported among the girls that were administrated with the vaccine.

One case of cervical dysplasia in each of the 175 girls eligible for vaccination was prevented due to the program, demonstrated the study. “Although the vast majority of cases prevented by the vaccine would not have progressed to cervical cancer, given the burden of cervical dysplasia on the emotional and physical well-being of girls as well as on the health-care system, these early reductions are nevertheless of great importance,” added Lévesque.

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has recently released clinical advice to reduce the overuse of cervical cancer screening in average risk women without symptoms. The study “Cervical Cancer Screening in Average Risk Women” was published in Annals of Internal Medicine and is signed by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Clinical Pathology.

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