HPV vaccine

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One Shot, Two Shot: Study Finds One Dose of HPV Vaccine Could Be Enough

A teenager bares her band-aid after getting the HPV vaccine.

A teenager bares her band-aid after getting the HPV vaccine.

You’ve heard about the importance of getting an HPV vaccine and the surprisingly low percentage of young women who do so in the U.S.  For various reasons — accessibility, cost, bad information — many who start the 3-part vaccination series do not complete it.

But what if a single dose could protect women from HPV around the globe? The results of a new study suggest it very well could. Researchers found HPV antibodies in the blood of Costa Rican women who had received one dose of an HPV vaccine four years prior, indicating that one shot might be enough to equip the immune system to recognize and fight HPV infection. While antibody levels were higher in women who had received two doses compared to just one, antibody levels were similar between two- and three-dose recipients.

Public health officials have made the case that getting all 3 doses of the HPV vaccine is necessary for full protection.  And they’re not eating their words yet: the vaccine used in the recent study, Cervarix, only guards against two strains of HPV. It remains untested whether Gardasil, which protects against two additional strains of HPV and is the predominant HPV vaccine in the U.S., is effective after a single dose. That being said, the study’s findings are promising for the global fight against HPV.

Take a look at the news release from the American Association for Cancer Research website:

Women vaccinated with one dose of a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine had antibodies against the viruses that remained stable in their blood for four years, suggesting that a single dose of vaccine may be sufficient to generate long-term immune responses and protection against new HPV infections, and ultimately cervical cancer, according to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

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Head And Neck Cancer: Why Both Sexes Need The HPV Vaccine

Dr. Paula Johnson

This is a guest post by Paula A. Johnson, MD, MPH, Executive Director of the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology, and Chief of the Division of Women’s Health at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Robert Haddad, Chief of Head and Neck Oncology at Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, and Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Robert Haddad

The rhetoric around the HPV vaccine and the recommendation that we vaccinate girls against cervical cancer has reached a fevered pitch. But while the HPV vaccine is being debated, a silent epidemic has gone unrecognized and is brewing. HPV has crossed gender lines and become the number one cause of oropharyngeal cancer in the nation for both men and women.

According to the National Cancer Institute, oropharyngeal cancer has reached epidemic proportions with over 20,000 new cases annually. This cancer attacks the middle part of the pharynx (throat) behind the mouth, and includes the back one-third of the tongue, the soft palate, the side and back walls of the throat, and the tonsils.

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