HPV Vaccination Reduces Genital Wart Occurrences

Genital warts can be prevented with HPV vaccines
couple hugging in a field

A prophylactic, quadrivalent Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination can prevent Genital Warts (GW) in healthy women and men, reported a recent study.

Therefore, HPV vaccines should be included in the routine immunization programs, concluded these researchers on May 28, 2020.

This study published by BMC Public Health summarizes the available evidence on the efficacy of the quadrivalent HPV vaccine in preventing GW by conducting a meta-analysis.

Eight randomized controlled clinical trials (RCTs) were included where HPV vaccines (3 doses) or placebos were administered to females or males (in one study) and then the number of GW cases was compared between the vaccinated and placebo group. 

Eight time-trend studies were also included to assess the population-level effect of the quadrivalent HPV vaccination by comparing the prevalence of GWs between the pre- and post-vaccination periods.

The quadrivalent HPV vaccine was found to significantly reduce the risk of GWs. 

In the post-vaccination period, the number of GW events in women was considerably lower. 

Although young men were not vaccinated, the number of GW cases was also reduced among them, to be attributed most likely to the indirect protection provided by the vaccination of women. 

Additionally, subgroup analysis showed that GWs were reduced more substantially in those under 21 years of age than in older persons.

The findings are consistent with previous reviews and meta-analyses, where it was also found that the prevalence of GWs decreased significantly in vaccinated girls and the quadrivalent prophylactic vaccination could prevent HPV infection both in men and women.

The quadrivalent vaccine targets HPV types 16 and 18 – the two types that cause 80 percent of cervical cancer cases.

And, also HPV types 6 and 11, which are associated with up to 95 percent of GW cases.

Every year, a large number of women and men are affected by anal, cervical, oropharyngeal, penile, and vaginal cancers linked to HPV. 

Cervical cancer is the 3rd most common malignancy among women worldwide, with more than 300,000 deaths in 2018 alone.

Besides cervical cancers, GWs are also common manifestations of genital HPV infection. 

Although usually not regarded as a serious condition, GWs cause physical symptoms such as pruritus, pain and have a negative impact on sexual life resulting in significant loss of quality of life for those with a sexually transmitted infection.

Gardasil has been the vaccine of choice worldwide for many years. 

In Australia, cases of GW have nearly disappeared since 2007 – this was the year when the national vaccination program against cervical cancer using the quadrivalent vaccine was introduced as a school-based program for 12- and 13-year-old girls.

In summary, ‘Our meta-analysis gives strong evidence for the effectiveness of the quadrivalent HPV vaccine,’ said Anita Lukács, an Assistant Professor and public health researcher at the University of Szeged, Hungary, in a related commentary.

‘Such knowledge can help governments with making decisions about the implementation of the vaccination in their countries for young females and also males, preferably through school-based programs.’

In the USA, the Gardasil 9 vaccine helps protect girls and women ages 9 to 45 against cervical, vaginal, vulvar, and anal cancers and genital warts caused by 9 types of HPV. 

It also is indicated to help protect boys and men ages 9 to 45 against anal cancer and genital warts caused by those same HPV types, says the US Food and Drug Administration.

HPV vaccines news published by Vax Before Cancer.