, Volume 70, Issue 9, pp 1079–1098

Human Papillomavirus Vaccines

Current Status and Future Prospects


    • Department of Microbiology and Infectious DiseasesRoyal Women’s Hospital
    • Department of Obstetrics and GynaecologyUniversity of Melbourne
  • Jennifer S. Smith
    • Department of Epidemiology, Gillings School of Global Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina
Current Opinion

DOI: 10.2165/10898580-000000000-00000

Cite this article as:
Garland, S.M. & Smith, J.S. Drugs (2010) 70: 1079. doi:10.2165/10898580-000000000-00000


Worldwide, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer of women. Less-developed countries bear the greatest burden in terms of morbidity and mortality, largely due to the lack of organized screening programmes. Cervical cancer is the first cancer shown to be caused solely by virological agents: oncogenic genotypes of human papillomavirus (HPV). Two recently developed prophylactic cervical cancer vaccines, which are based on viral-like particle (VLP) technology of HPV, have the capacity to diminish a large proportion of cervical cancer cases worldwide. However, to be successful public health tools, they need to be widely implemented to the appropriate target population, preferably prior to first sexual intercourse. To increase vaccination coverage, national programmes in some countries have also included catch-up vaccination, for a limited time period, to young adult women aged up to 26 years. Despite the excellent efficacy for high-grade dysplasia due to vaccine-related HPV types (near to 100%) and immunogenicity induced against the HPV types 16 and 18 in females naive to those HPV types pre-vaccination, some form of cervical precancer screening will still be necessary. Immunity to HPV is primarily type specific, and thus protection induced by the current generation of vaccines, based on a limited number of HPV VLP types, cannot provide complete protection against all oncogenic HPV types. Both these vaccines translate to protection of cervical cancer in the order of 70–75%, which represents the percentage of invasive cancers attributable to HPV-16 and -18. Challenges to ensuring the successful control of this largely preventable disease include endorsement by governments and policy makers, affordable prices, education at all levels, overcoming barriers to vaccination and continued adherence to screening programmes.

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