HPV vaccine: effective but underused in the USBMJ 2016; 353 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i2060 (Published 14 April 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i2060
- Douglas Kamerow, senior scholar, Robert Graham Center for policy studies in primary care, Washington, DC, professor of family medicine, Georgetown University, and associate editor, The BMJ
In most young women and men the human papillomavirus (HPV) is an innocuous sexually transmitted infection, asymptomatic, and eventually cleared without consequences. In some people, however, HPV infection becomes chronic and leads to cancer (mainly cervical, but also anal, penile, oral, and throat cancers) or genital warts. The HPV types 16 and 18 together cause 70% of cervical cancers.
Vaccines to prevent HPV were licensed in the United States and recommended for all adolescent girls in 2006. Recommendations to vaccinate boys started in 2011. The good news, recently confirmed in a US study of females aged 14-34, is that HPV vaccine can prevent HPV infection1; the bad news is that we’re not doing a good job of getting the vaccine into our …
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