HPV Vaccine Is Really Lowering Infection Rates: Here's Why

First Posted: Feb 22, 2016 03:35 PM EST

Thank the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for lowering the risk of cancer-causing HPV strains among girls. The vaccine is currently recommended for young girls and boys aged 11 to 12, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Findings published in the journal Pediatrics reveal that there's been a 64 percent decrease in HPV prevalence among teen girls between the ages of 14 to 19, as well as a 34-percent decrease among young women aged 20 to 24.

"We are continuing to see decreases in the HPV types that are targeted by the vaccine," said lead researcher Dr. Lauri Markowitz, a medical epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, via CBS News.

Researchers are hopeful that these declines will lead to a reduction in diseases that are caused by HPV, including cervical cancer and head and neck cancer.

"We have seen declines in genital warts [caused by HPV] already," she added. "The next thing we expect to see is a decline in pre-cancers, then later on declines in cancer."

Markowitz noted that the numbers show significant improvement regarding the controversial topic. Statistics from 2013 show that only 38 percent of girls received all doses of the vaccine, while 57 percent received at least one dose, according to TIME

The study is based on interviews and medical tests conducted during the federal government's National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys in 2003-2006 (before the vaccines) and 2009-2012 (the most recent data available).

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