More than half of the U.S. has HPV, which can lead to cervical cancer.
Photo by Danang Wicaksono/Pexels.
Around the world, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women.
However, in countries with lower incomes, the effect is even greater. 25% of the cervical cancer cases each year worldwide are in India. Rates of this cancer are much higher in most Asian countries — in fact, it’s the second most common cancer among women throughout most of Asia.
One of the reasons cervical cancer cases develop in lower- or middle-income countries is that they don’t have as much access to HPV vaccines.
HPV, a virus about half of the U.S. currently has, can lead to cervical cancer.
However, there are some strains of HPV that are less likely to do so, as well as high-risk strains that are more likely. The vaccine protects against specific strains of HPV and, in conjunction with routine screenings, can help decrease the number of cases of cervical cancer around the world.
The vaccine is already lowering HPV rates in the U.S., which is why it’s been recommended since 2006. But there is also a strong push to increase access to the HPV vaccination beyond wealthy western countries.
As of now, more than 280 million vaccines have been administered worldwide. These vaccines have a good safety profile and minimal adverse effects. While it’s not been proven to protect against certain HPV strains, the vaccine, with its good safety profile and minimal adverse effects, has been very effective for those who received it between the ages of 9 and 14.
Currently, more than 80 countries have introduced the HPV vaccine. The U.S., Canada, Australia, and Denmark were among the first high-income countries to implement it. 33 lower- or middle-income countries have since followed suit with full-fledged programs and others are introducing HPV vaccination pilot programs of their own.
Little by little, this vaccine is spreading to the parts of the world that need it most.