Reuters) - The U.S. introduction of a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer in 2006 has reduced infections with the human papillomavirus or HPV - the sexually transmitted virus that causes the disease - by more than half among girls and young women, U.S. health officials said on Wednesday.
The results were better than expected and may even suggest that unvaccinated individuals are benefiting because of a drop in the number of infections circulating, the team reported in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
"This report shows that HPV works well, and the report should be a wake-up call to our nation to protect the next generation by increasing HPV vaccination rates," Dr Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a statement.
It became a hot-button issue again last year when South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley ® vetoed an HPV bill approved by state lawmaker in her own party, despite pleas from state health officials. (South Carolina ranks ninth nationwide for cervical cancer deaths. This, alas, did not sway the governor.)
As is often the case, science keeps getting in the way of far-right Republican talking points. Last fall, research helped document the fact that the HPV vaccine did not change sexual behavior among minors, and this week, new data published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases helps document the extent to which the vaccine is literally a life-saver.