Up To 90% Of Girls In Australian Secondary Schools Have Received HPV Vaccine

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HPV Vaccine

CSL Limited, which distributes Merck'shuman papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil in Australia, announced that 77%to 90% of girls in Australian secondary schools have received thevaccine, Melbourne Herald Sun reports (Collier, Melbourne Herald Sun,8/17). Gardasil in clinical trials has been shown to be 100% effectivein preventing infection with HPV strains 16 and 18, which togethercause about 70% of cervical cancer cases, and about 99% effective inpreventing HPV strains 6 and 11, which together with HPV strains 16 and18 cause about 90% of genital wart cases, among women not alreadyinfected with these strains (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 7/18).

AustralianPrime Minister John Howard in November 2006 announced that thegovernment will provide about $342 million for a program that willoffer Gardasil at no cost to girls and women ages 12 to 26 living inthe country. Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration in June 2006 approved Gardasil for girls and women ages nine to 26 and boys ages nine to 15 (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 11/30/06). According to the Herald Sun, CSL has sold 1.7 million doses of the vaccine in Australia since August 2006.

Thousandsof parents have opted against having their daughters participate in thevaccination program. Religious beliefs, mistrust of the vaccine'ssafety and fear of promoting promiscuity are among the reasonsthousands of parents have declined permission, the Herald Sunreports. CSL spokesperson Rachel David has urged parents who havedeclined permission to reconsider, adding that the vaccine is stillavailable at no cost through local physicians (Melbourne Herald Sun, 8/17).

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Womenages 18 to 26 will be able to receive the vaccination at no cost fromtheir general practitioners for two years beginning in the middle of2007. The National Immunisation Program plans to target female studentsages 12 and 13 to receive Gardasil after a two-year "catch-up period"of vaccinating women as old as 26. About 270 women in Australia dieannually from cervical cancer, and about 800 are diagnosed with thedisease annually (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 11/30/06).

Government Decides Not To Fund Cervarix Vaccinations

In related news, the Australian government recently decided not to provide funding for GlaxoSmithKline's experimental HPV vaccine Cervarix after questions were raised about its efficacy in blocking genital warts, the Australian Associated Press reports (Australian Associated Press, 8/18).

Cervarixhas been shown to be 100% effective in preventing infection with HPVstrains 16 and 18, which together cause about 70% of cervical cancercases. Researchers in a 2006 study published in the online edition ofthe Lancet also found that Cervarix prevented infectionwith HPV strains 31 and 45, which together with strains 16 and 18,cause more than 80% of cervical cancer cases.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration in June approved the vaccine for girls and women ages 10 to 45 (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 8/15). According to the Australian Associated Press, Cervarix will cost about 450 Australian dollars, or about $362, for the three-shot series (Australian Associated Press, 8/18).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.