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Expatriate Health Insurance News: HPV vaccine 'causes herd immunity'

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is an effective way of lowering cases of the condition, even among people who have not received the inoculation.

Research published in the journal Pediatrics and performed in the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is believed to be the first study that has shown a significant fall in HPV infection among a community as a result of the immunisation of teens.

Furthermore, it has demonstrated 'herd protection', or when unimmunised individuals also realise a decrease in HPV infection when a substantial proportion of their friends and neighbours have been inoculated.

This could lead to expatriate medical insurance firms no longer having to help people recover from HPV infection and a host of related illnesses.

Between 2006 and 2007, Dr Jessica Kahn, a physician in the Cincinnati facility's Adolescent Medicine division, worked with colleagues to recruit 368 young women aged between 13 and 16 from two of the city's primary care clinics, with all of these participants having engaged in sexual contact.

Later, from 2009 to 2010, they selected 409 females in this age range, with more than 50 per cent of these having received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine.

Overall, the prevalence of the HPV strains dealt with by the immunisation fell from 31.7 per cent to 13.4 per cent, or a 58 per cent overall decrease.

While those who had been vaccinated realised the largest protection against HPV, with their rate of infection falling by 69 per cent, those who had not been inoculated were found to be 49 per cent less likely to develop the relevant viral strains.

International healthcare research has shown HPV can increase a woman's risk of developing cervical cancer and two of the types targeted by the inoculation – HPV-16 and HPV-18 – are known to be responsible for around 70 per cent of all cases of this condition.

"The results are promising in that they suggest that vaccine introduction could substantially reduce rates of cervical cancer in this community in the future," Dr Kahn said.

Other illnesses HPV is known to cause include cancers of the penis, vulva, anus, vagina and throat, as well as genital warts or growths elsewhere on the body, such as the hands.

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