Australia commenced an ongoing school based government funded human papillomaviruses (HPV) (cervical cancer prevention) vaccination program in April 2007 for adolescent females aged 12-13 years. In addition, up to December 31, 2009, a catch-up program for young females 13-26 years of age was offered: a school-based vaccination program was used to offer HPV vaccine to girls enrolled in school (14-17 years), and general practitioners or other community health provider offered vaccine to young women aged 18-26 years. To date, only the quadrivalent vaccine (HPV 6/11/16/18) has been utilized in the funded program. Acceptance of the vaccine is high with coverage of 3 doses of the HPV vaccine in the school age cohort around 70%, and just over 30% in the older age cohort. Since the vaccination program was initiated, a reduction in new cases of genital warts of 73% among vaccine eligible age females has been evidenced in STI clinics across Australia. A reduction of 44% of new cases in young males (not a part of the free program) was also documented during this same time period, suggesting significant herd immunity. Similarly, in the state of Victoria, a small but significant decrease in high grade abnormalities in Pap screening findings has been reported in young women<18 years for the period 2007-9, as compared to pre-vaccination. Challenges for the future include how we can sustain and improve HPV vaccination coverage in young Australian women, while maintaining cervical cancer screening participation and reviewing cervical cancer screening methods.
Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier Inc.