The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination was developed by researchers led by Scottish-born Australian scientist, Professor Ian Frazer. Australia’s fully-funded cervical cancer vaccine program of school-age girls got underway in 2007.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended the impact of this vaccination program be monitored, a task which will be carried out by the MCRI’s Vaccination team.
The study will compare if fewer young women have HPV now than prior to the introduction of the program.
More than 1,500 females aged 18 to 25 will be involved in the study to determine the current prevalence of HPV and uptake of the vaccination and cervical screening, while about 500 biopsy results will be examined in a sample of young Victorian women for the presence of HPV.
The study is timely because a drop in infection rates of genital warts shows HPV is already being prevented, says study leader Professor Suzanne Garland.
“We know that the take up rate has been high with resulted reduction in infection and disease related to the HPV types,” Professor Garland says.
The uptake rates are about 73 per cent for three doses of the vaccine and 83 per cent for one dose.
An online questionnaire will accompany the vaccine effectiveness study to explore young women’s reasons and attitudes for and against vaccination.
“We hope to gain insight into why 27 per cent of young women remain incompletely vaccinated,” Professor Garland says.
The Australian government recently extended the school-based vaccination program, available to young girls, to include boys.