Background: Vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV), predominantly targeting young females, has been introduced in many countries. Decisions to implement programs, which have involved substantial investment by governments, have in part been based on findings from cost-effectiveness models. Now that vaccination programs have been in place for some years, it is becoming possible to observe their effects, and compare these with model effectiveness predictions made previously.
Findings: Australia introduced a publicly-funded HPV vaccination program in 2007. Recently reported Australian data from a repeat cross-sectional survey showed a substantial (77%) fall in HPV16 prevalence in women aged 18-24 years in 2010-2011, compared to pre-vaccination levels. We have previously published model predictions for the population-wide reduction in incident HPV16 infections post-vaccination in Australia. We compared prior predictions from the same model (including the same assumed uptake rates) for the reduction in HPV16 prevalence in women aged 18-24 years by the end of 2010 with the observed data. Based on modelled vaccine uptake which is consistent with recent data on three-dose uptake (78% at 12-13 years; lower uptake in older catch-up age cohorts), we had predicted a 70% reduction in prevalence in 18-24 year old females by the end of 2010. Based on modelled vaccine uptake consistent with recent national data for two-dose coverage and similar to that reported by women in the cross-sectional study, we had predicted a 79% reduction.
Conclusions: A close correspondence was observed between the prior model predictions and the recently reported findings on the rapid drop in HPV prevalence in Australia. Because broadly similar effectiveness predictions have been reported from other models used for cost-effectiveness predictions, this provides reassurance that the substantial public investment in HPV vaccination has been grounded in valid estimates of the effects of vaccination.