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In a study of more than 3 million adult women in Denmark and Sweden, results indicate that human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination was not connected with 44 serious chronic diseases.
In a study of more than 3 million adult women in Denmark and Sweden, results indicate that human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination was not connected with 44 serious chronic diseases.1 These findings expand the HPV vaccine knowledge base, since the majority of post-licensure evidence comes from young adolescents targeted by immunization guidelines.
“This is the most comprehensive study of HPV vaccination safety in adult women to date,” said lead author Anders Hviid, MSc, DMSc, senior investigator in the Department of Epidemiology Research at the Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark, in a press statement. “It is not unreasonable to expect different safety concerns in adult women compared with young girls, and our study is an important supplement to the safety studies in young girls.”
In conducting the cohort study, researchers looked at Danish and Swedish nationwide healthcare registers to compare incidence rate ratios (RRs) of 45 preselected serious chronic diseases in quadrivalent HPV-vaccinated and unvaccinated adult women ages 18-44. A total of 3,126,790 women (1,195,865 [38%] Danish and 1,930,925 [62%] Swedish) were followed for 16,386,459 person-years. Scientists looked for diseases or conditions such as epilepsy, paralysis, lupus, psoriasis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid issues, and Crohn’s disease.
After taking multiple testing into account and conducting self-controlled case series analyses, celiac disease (RR 1.56; 95% confidence interval, 1.29-1.89) was the only remaining association, the analysis suggests.1 The increased risk association with celiac disease, an autoimmune condition triggered by dietary gluten, was observed only in Denmark. Because previous research indicated that celiac disease is underdiagnosed in the general adult population in Denmark, scientists surmise the findings may be a result of unmasking a pre-existing disease.2
Adult women also are receiving HPV vaccination through catch-up programs or by choice at their own expense. How important is it that woman ages 18-26 be vaccinated for HPV?
HPV vaccination is the best way to protect against cancers and other diseases caused by HPV infections, notes Lauri Markowitz, MD, HPV Team Lead in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases’ Division of Viral Diseases.
“Every year in the United States, over 31,000 women and men are diagnosed with a cancer caused by persistent HPV infection,” says Markowitz. “Most of these cancers could be prevented by HPV vaccination.”
Vaccination also can prevent testing and treatment that is uncomfortable, even for cervical precancers, notes Markowitz. Each year in the United States, more than 300,000 women undergo invasive testing and treatment for lesions on the cervix that can develop into cancers.3 Markowitz says that the testing and treatment for these precancers can have lasting effects.
“In the 10 years since HPV vaccine was introduced, we have seen that it works extremely well,” Markowitz comments. “Since the vaccine was introduced, infections with the HPV types that cause most of these cancers and genital warts has dropped by 71% among teen girls ages 14-19 and 61% among young women ages 20-24.”4
Do you know the schedule when it comes to HPV vaccinations? Routine HPV vaccination is recommended at 11 or 12 years of age, says Markowitz. The vaccine will provide the most protection when it is administered in early adolescence before exposure to HPV, she says. HPV vaccination also is recommended for girls and women through age 26 who were not adequately vaccinated previously, says Markowitz.
“People who start the vaccination series after their 15th birthday need three doses instead of two to be protected against cancers caused by HPV,” says Markowitz. “Women should also start getting regular Pap tests at age 21 to screen for cervical cancers and precancers.”
In October 2016, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices approved the following HPV immunization schedule:
Financial Disclosure: Consulting Editor Robert A. Hatcher, MD, MPH, Nurse Planner Melanie Deal, MS, WHNP-BC, FNP-BC, Author Rebecca Bowers, Author Adam Sonfield, Executive Editor Shelly Morrow Mark, Q/A Copy Editing Specialist Savannah Zeches, and Editorial Group Manager Terrey L. Hatcher report no consultant, stockholder, speaker’s bureau, research, or other financial relationships with companies having ties to this field of study.