New research finds that young women who get the HPV vaccination gain substantial protection against infection in three parts of the body if they haven’t already been exposed to the human papillomavirus.
HPV is an infection that can separately infect the cervical, anal, or oral sites, where it can occasionally lead to cancer. Studies demonstrate that the HPV 16/18 vaccine provides protection to all three sites, particularly among women without evidence of HPV exposure prior to vaccination.
The study involved more than 4,100 women in aged 18 to 25. Half were assigned to get the HPV vaccine while the others received an inactive placebo.
The researchers found that the vaccine was 83 percent effective in all three body sites among women without apparent HPV exposure, and 58 percent effective among women who had been exposed to the virus.
Three HPV vaccines are now available. These vaccines — Cervarix, Gardasil and Gardasil 9 — should be given as a series of three shots over six months, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
U.S. guidelines recommend that girls aged 11 to 12 get the HPV vaccine to help prevent cervical cancer. For someone who hasn’t been vaccinated, guidelines recommend vaccination through the age of 26.
Additionally, Gardasil and Gardasil 9 also protect against genital warts and anal cancer in both females and males, according to the CDC.
Despite these guidelines, only half of females under age 18 have been vaccinated in the United States, the study authors said in the news release. Young women and parents of young women should be more proactive regarding their health and well-being.