Fewer women are contracting human papillomavirus (HPV) than ever before, according to a study published Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics.
The rates for infection among teens has dropped by 64 percent in the last decade, and 34 percent for women in their 20s. This dramatic decrease can be attributed to the introduction of Gardasil, a vaccine designed to target the four strains of HPV with direct causal links to cervical cancer.
The drug is also useful in preventing anal cancer and genital warts in both males and females.
Lauri Markowitz, who led the study, says,
We are seeing exactly what we would expect — that the first impact would be seen in the youngest age groups, and then as they age into the older age groups, we would see an impact on young women. But we would see greater impact with greater vaccine coverage.
Some, indeed, are resistant to the vaccine, believing it promotes sexual promiscuity among teens by protecting them from contracting a specific STD. Nonetheless, one state — Rhode Island — recently passed a law mandating all children, male and female, to receive the vaccine.
Earlier this month, the CDC introduced a new version of the vaccine, designed to protect against nine strains of HPV, versus only four. Considering more than 80 million people are infected with HPV in the US alone, there's no doubt more vaccinations can only help.
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