, Volume 10, Issue 1-2, pp 44-53
Date: 23 Apr 2009

Worldwide Impact of the Human Papillomavirus Vaccine

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Opinion statement

Nearly 500,000 new cases of cervical cancer and 274,000 cervical cancer deaths are occurring worldwide each year. Approximately 80% of the 500,000 new cases occur in developing countries and this percentage is expected to increase to 90% by 2020. In developing countries, cervical cancer tends to affect relatively young poor women and is the single largest cause of years of life lost to cancer, since screening and treatment programs, and health care, in general, are relatively inaccessible to these women. Each 5-year delay in vaccinating women against HPV may lead to the deaths of 1.5 to 2 million women from cervical cancer in developing countries. The high efficacy of the two available cervical cancer vaccines and their proven ability to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer precursor lesions offer hope that the vaccine will have enormous worldwide impact and may dramatically reduce the cervical cancer burden. The current vaccines protecting against HPV-16 and HPV-18 may prevent up to 70% of new cervical cancers. Vaccine cross-reactivity for HPV-31, -33, -45, and -52 suggest that an even higher percentage of cervical cancers might be prevented with its use. Currently, the prohibitive cost of the vaccine precludes its widespread implementation. Cooperation between governments, international health organizations, and the vaccine industry is needed to overcome this significant barrier so that women are no longer denied a potentially life-saving advance. Worldwide HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening should be made an international priority.