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HPV vaccine's wider benefits

Offering vaccination against HPV would cut rates of cervical cancer in a population including sexually active women, a new study concludes.

The US researchers said their study suggested women with prior exposure to HPV would benefit from vaccination, although they did not present data specific to this population.In women negative for HPV16 and HPV18 the vaccine was 99% effective, and 44% effective in all women – including those who were positive for HPV16/18 and who had had up to five sexual partners.Previous evidence of benefit has been restricted to the primary target group of 11- or 12-year-old girls – the group currently under consideration for a national vaccine campaign.The latest results from the FUTURE II study, which followed 17,129 women aged 16 to 26 for three years, were published online by The Lancet last week.Study leader Dr Kevin Ault, who works in the department of gynaecology and obstetrics at Emory University school of medicine in Atlanta, said: 'Our data suggest vaccination of sexually active women will provide benefit against HPV16- and HPV18-related high-grade cervical disease.'In an accompanying editorial, Dr Maurie Markman, vice-president for clinical research at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson cancer centre in Houston, Texas, said a number of questions remained, including the best age to administer the vaccine, its cost, whether boys should be vaccinated, and 'the belief by some that it's unnecessary in the developed world due to the effectiveness of cervical cancer screening strategies'.

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