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Pressure grows for HPV vaccine for 18-25s

By Lilian Anekwe

Ministers are being urged to find a way of making HPV vaccination available to women aged 18 to 25 after its advisers concluded the move would be beneficial.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation advised that vaccinating at-risk women in the age group would worthwhile, even if a universal catch-up campaign was unlikely to be cost-effective.

The move comes with the research published last month suggesting women who have already been exposed to HPV infection could still benefit from vaccination.

Minutes from the committee's last meeting in February reveal it has urged the DH to consider requests from young women at risk of HPV infection.

‘The committee recognised that the vaccine could benefit some individual women aged 18 and over who were at risk of new HPV infection by the vaccine types', the minutes state.

‘The committee asked that the DH consider this further and explore mechanisms of meeting such requests. The committee was informed the DH is considering these options and will provide advice when it is able to.'

Dr Anne Szarewski, clinical consultant at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, told Pulse up to 95% of women aged 18 to 25 age would receive some benefit from HPV vaccination.

‘At an individual level there are very few women who would not benefit to some extent. The only women who would not benefit are those who have an active HPV infection – they have antibodies and test positive for anti-HPV DNA in the cervix.'

But the DH said: "We are not planning to issue further guidance on this issue. Decisions on the treatment of individual patients are ultimately a matter for the doctor concerned.'

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