Human Papillomavirus Vaccine: A New Chance to Prevent Cervical Cancer

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Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a significant source of morbidity and mortality throughout the world and is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. HPV is the primary etiologic agent of cervical cancer and dysplasia. Thus, cervical cancer and other HPV-associated malignancies might be prevented or treated by HPV vaccines. Recent research on the safety and efficacy of candidate prophylactic vaccines against HPV have shown very promising results, with nearly 100% efficacy in preventing the development of persistent infections and cervical dysplasia. Questions remain, however, concerning the duration of protection, vaccine acceptability, and feasibility of vaccine delivery in the developing world. Screening recommendations might also be modified based on the longer-term follow-up data and cost-effectiveness considerations, but some level of screening is likely to be required for decades following the implementation of vaccine programs.