The HPV vaccine is working for young women in Australia, suggests a new study published in the journal PLOS One.
Researchers analyzed a database of more than 1 million patients and found that since Australia began providing the HPV vaccine free to women ages 15-27 in 2007, the rate of genital warts fell 61% from four years before the vaccination program began.
The team from the University of Sydney saw no significant change in the rates of genital warts among other age groups not covered by the program, and other sexually transmitted infections didn’t decrease over this period. That suggests the vaccine is responsible, not a change in sexual behavior, the authors say. “Due to this reduction, some young women in Australia have been spared the distress of having genital warts and the health system spared the cost of having to treat them,” the authors wrote in the study.
Of course, the HPV vaccine helps prevent more than genital warts. It’s the only vaccine to protect against cancer (the kind in the cervix, anus, and mouth). But rates of adoption are lower in the United States, and compliance may be an issue—a recent CDC report found that only about 33% of American girls ages 13-17 got all three doses of the shot.