Background: Diagnoses of genital warts (GW) in genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics have been increasing in England for many years. In 2008, an HPV immunization program began with a bivalent vaccine (Cervarix). This was expected to markedly reduce infections and disease due to human papillomavirus (HPV) 16/18 but not HPV 6/11 infections or disease. However, from 2009 to 2011 there were decreases in reported diagnoses of GW in young females at GUM clinics.
Methods: Using data from GUM clinics and a sample of general practices (GPs) throughout England, we analyzed rates of GW diagnoses by age, year of diagnosis, and estimated immunization coverage.
Results: The overall reduction in GW diagnoses at GUM clinics between 2008 and 2011 was 13.3% among 16- to 19-year-old females, with the greatest decline of 20.8% in 17-year-olds. Declines were positively associated with estimated immunization coverage. A similar pattern was seen in GP diagnoses, but not among older women, and for other GUM consultations.
Conclusions: Several factors might contribute to declines in GW. However, the size and pattern of the declines strongly suggest that we are observing an unexpected, moderately protective effect of HPV 16/18 vaccination against GW.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00122681.
Keywords: Cervarix; HPV immunization; genital warts; surveillance.