Incomplete HPV Vaccination May Offer Some Protection

Posted on: July 29, 2014 Topics: epidemiology

Minority women who received the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination even after becoming sexually active had lower rates of abnormal Pap test results than those who were never vaccinated, according to a study in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Researchers from BU schools of public health and medicine conducted a cross-sectional study of 235 women, ages 21 to 30, undergoing routine cervical cytology testing. HPV status and demographic and behavioral characteristics were self-reported and verified with electronic medical records.

“Although data clearly indicate better immune responses and vaccine efficacy against both genital warts and cervical dysplasia when vaccination occurs before age 14, this study suggests that HPV vaccination may be effective in reducing abnormal Pap test results, even after sexual debut,” explained co-author Dr. Rebecca Perkins, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the BU School of Medicine and a gynecologist at Boston Medical Center.

Susan Brogly, assistant professor of epidemiology at BUSPH, was a co-author.

At the time of the study, 41 percent of the women had received at least one HPV vaccination; 97 percent were vaccinated after sexual debut. Ten percent of women had an abnormal cervical cytology result. The prevalence of abnormal cytology was 65 percent lower in women who received at least one HPV vaccination, as compared to unvaccinated women.

According to the researchers, continued surveillance of HPV vaccination is necessary to identify clinical benefits, particularly given the low rate of vaccine uptake and completion and vaccination of many young women after sexual debut.

Funding for the study was provided by the American Cancer Society.