Just ONE dose of the HPV vaccine could be as effective as three at preventing infection

Women who receive just one dose of the HPV vaccine may be as protected against the virus as those who receive the recommended two to three doses, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that certain HPV infections were ‘significantly less prevalent’ among those who received one, two or three doses of the vaccine compared to no doses.

What’s more, fewer women who were incoluated with one dose were later infected compared to women who had two doses.   

The team, from the University of Texas Health School of Public Health, says the findings could encourage more women to receive the jab and, in turn, help drive down rates of cancers that the virus is linked to.

A new study from the University of Texas Health School of Public Health found that women who received one dose of the HPV vaccine were more protected from infection than women who got two doses (file image)

A new study from the University of Texas Health School of Public Health found that women who received one dose of the HPV vaccine were more protected from infection than women who got two doses (file image) 

HPV, short for Human papillomavirus, is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the US, affecting around 79 million people. 

It has been linked to numerous cancers – including prostate, throat, head and neck, rectum and cervical cancer.

Since the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006, at least 79 countries and territories have implemented a publicly funded national HPV vaccination program.

In the US, the vaccine is offered in two or three doses over the course of six months to girls who are between ages 11 and 12, with a catch-up series recommended no later than age 26.

In the UK, all girls between ages 12 and 18 are offered free vaccination against HPV over six to 12 months, as well a 12- and 13-year-old boys. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 34,800 people are diagnosed with cancer linked to HPV every year. 

It is linked to 90 percent of all cervical and anal cancers, more than 60 percent of all penile cancers, and about 70 percent of all oral cancers.

For the study, published in JAMA Network Open, the team looked at data from the CDC’s National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey.

Researchers looked at HPV vaccinations rates and infection rates for 1,620 US women from ages 18 to 26 between 2009 and 2016.   

Results showed that 11 percent of the 1,004 unvaccinated women were positive for HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18. 

HPV types 6 and 11 are low-risk types of HPV, while types 16 and 18 are responsible for about 70 percent of cervical cancers worldwide.

Meanwhile, about 100 had been vaccinated with one dose, 125 had received two doses, and nearly 400 had gotten three. 

Four of the one dose women, seven of the two dose women and 14 of the three dose women were diagnosed with the same HPV infections types.

This means that about the same rate of women who received one dose and three doses were infected.

But the rate of infected women who got two doses of the vaccine was nearly double compared to the one dose women. 

Only half of all Americans people are vaccinated against HPV, but researchers believe the findings will help drive up immunization rates.

‘The current HPV vaccine dosing regimen can be cumbersome for people to understand,’ said lead author Dr Kalyani Sonawane, an assistant professor at UTHealth School of Public Health.

‘If one dose is proven effective in trials, the regimen will be simplified. This will help improve the coverage rate among adolescents…and possibly will also increase the momentum of uptake in the newly approved age group.’ 

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