The HPV vaccine reduces the number of oral infections and brings the US closer to & # 39; herd immunity & # 39 ;, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that between 2009 and 2016, oral HPV infections in non-vaccinated men decreased by around 40 percent.
The team, from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, says they believe men are further protected from infection – even if they have not been given a shot – because HPV vaccination rates are rising among women.
They add that the findings are not only encouraging because the number of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is falling, but that this is likely to lead to fewer cancer diagnoses each year.
A new study from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, says that non-vaccinated men are protected by & # 39; herd immunity & # 39; because the number of HPV vaccinations in women is increasing (file image)
HPV, the abbreviation for Human papillomavirus, is the most common STD in the US and affects approximately 79 million people.
It has been associated with numerous cancers – including prostate, throat, head, and neck, rectal and cervical cancers.
Since the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006, 79 countries and territories have implemented government-funded national HPV vaccination programs.
In the US, the vaccine is offered in two or three doses over the course of six months to girls between the ages of 11 and 12, with a catch-up series recommended by the age of 26.
In 2011, the vaccine was also recommended for boys of the same age.
But both health experts and the general public have wondered whether the expansion of the vaccination rate has had the desired effect.
For the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the team looked at data on oral HPV infections in the US between 2009-2016.
From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, they investigated rates for unvaccinated men and women aged 18 to 59.
Researchers discovered that oral HPV infections decreased from 2.7 percent to 1.6 percent – a decrease of about 40 percent – in unvaccinated men.
However, there was no significant change in prevalence in unvaccinated women.
The team says the findings suggest that there is & # 39; herd immunity & # 39; is in men, which means that enough people have been vaccinated against the disease so that they are immune to it and unable to spread it.
But they attribute this to the rising HPV vaccination rate woman.
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 50 percent of girls between 13 and 17 and 37.5 percent of boys in the same age category were up-to-date with the HPV immunization schedule in 2016.
When the Gardisil vaccine was introduced to the market in 2006, many medical professionals who administered the first dose stated that it could only be given to virgins because they had the least chance of being exposed to HPV strains.
The idea was that if a teenager had already had sex, it would probably have been exposed to a virus strain.
However, several studies have since shown that the virus can be contracted, even if one is not sexually active.
This can happen in two ways. The first is through other forms of genital contact such as hand-to-genitals or mouth-to-genitals.
Because HPV is transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, it can also be picked up by touching a non-remediated surface, such as a table at a doctor or in a gym.
In 2017, new guidelines from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices stated that the vaccine would be administered in two doses for six months instead of three doses.
The new rules came after years of campaigns by cancer experts who insisted that a simpler schedule would encourage more people to protect themselves against the sexually transmitted disease.
Despite strong evidence of safety and effectiveness, vaccination rates in the US remain very low compared to other countries, including Spain, Portugal, Greece, Australia and New Zealand.
Every year, approximately 19,000 cancers caused by HPV occur in women in the US, with cervical cancer being the most common, the CDC said.
And about 8,000 cancers caused by HPV occur every year in men in the US and oropharyngeal (throat) cancers are the most common
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