61 Percent Drop in Female Genital Warts Attributed to Free HPV Vaccination Program in Australia

General practitioners in Australia are managing 61 per cent fewer cases of genital warts among young women since the introduction of the national human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program, a new study from the University of Sydney reveals. The study, which reviewed more than a million patient encounters between 2000 and 2012, showed a significant year-on-year reduction in the management rate of genital warts in women aged 15-27 years since the vaccination program started. The findings were published online on September 2, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. "The results show that the program has been a widespread success," said lead author of the study Christopher Harrison of the University of Sydney. The HPV vaccination program was introduced in 2007, and the rate of genital wart presentation fell dramatically from 4.33 per 1,000 encounters pre-program (2002-2006) to 1.67 per 1,000 encounters in the post-program period (2008-2012). Australia was one of the first countries to provide the HPV vaccine free to young women through a national immunization program. The vaccine protects against two major viral causes of genital warts (HPV 6 and HPV 11) and two major viral causes of cervical cancer (HPV 16 and HPV 18). "This is the first study to report the impact of HPV vaccinations on genital warts management in general practice, which is where the majority of cases are treated," said Mr. Harrison. "We looked at women potentially covered by the vaccination program (15-27 years), and the data showed a 61 per cent decrease in the management rate of genital warts in the four years after the program started, compared with the four years before the program. "This is an excellent result as not only do genital warts cause distress in affected patients, but treatment is at a substantial cost to the health system.
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