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First signs that HPV vaccination is working comes from new study

Early indications that the national HPV vaccination programme is working has come from an English study showing infection rates falling in sexually active 16 to 18 year olds.

The study – published in Vaccine – looked at 4178 vulva-vaginal swabs from young women aged 16 to 24 years undergoing chlamydia screening in family planning clinics, GP surgeries and youth clinics between 2010 and 2012. The swabs were tested for HPV infection and linked to sexual behaviour data gathered as part of chlamydia screening. Findings were compared to a baseline survey carried out before the introduction of HPV immunisation in 2008.

The post-immunisation prevalence of HPV (types 16 and 18) infection was lowest in the youngest age group (16–18 years) and increased with age - a reversal of the pattern seen before immunisation.

The prevalence of HPV 16/18 infection in the post-immunisation survey was 6.5% amongst 16–18 year olds, compared to 19.1% in the similar survey before HPV immunisation.

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