Editorials

HPV vaccination—reaping the rewards of the appliance of science

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f2184 (Published 18 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f2184
  1. Simon Barton, clinical director1,
  2. Colm O’Mahony, consultant in sexual health and HIV2
  1. 1Department of Sexual Health and HIV, Chelsea and Westminster Foundation Trust, London SW10 9TH, UK
  2. 2Countess of Chester NHS Trust, Chester, UK
  1. simon.barton{at}chelwest.nhs.uk

National programmes could virtually eliminate certain diseases and substantially reduce costs

The optimism generated by scientific breakthroughs often turns to disappointment when applied to the real world of clinical care. It is therefore worth celebrating the extraordinary success of Australia’s national human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination programme, which was implemented five years ago, as reported in the linked paper by Ali and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.f2032).1 This analysis of data on 85 770 new patients from six Australian sexual health clinics shows a remarkable reduction in the proportion of women under 21 years of age presenting with genital warts—from 11.5% in 2007 to 0.85% in 2011 (P<0.001). Only 13 cases of genital warts were diagnosed in women under the age of 21 across all six health clinics in 2011. Such a reduction in this distressing disease caused by a sexually transmitted virus is a major public health achievement. Furthermore, the near eradication of genital warts in young Australian women will probably have a major impact on the costs of sexual healthcare.

In 2007, Australia became one of the first countries to implement a nationally funded HPV vaccination programme for girls and young women with the …

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