The most effective way to reduce the spread of human papillomavirus (HPV) infections through a population is to aim public health efforts at vaccinating a very high percentage of either girls or boys against the disease, but not both, a new study suggests.
The study is based on a new mathematical model of HPV transmission.
Because many countries have started vaccinating girls against HPV, these countries should stick to vaccinating girls, said study researcher Johannes Bogaards, of the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. Only once most girls are vaccinated should efforts begin to vaccinate boys, and even then, only if there will be an added benefit to male vaccination, Bogaards said.
The findings counter a recent decision by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel, which recommended boys and girls receive the HPV vaccine.
Bogaards and colleagues found the most effective way to reduce HPV infections was to vaccinating a single sex. This is because, in the case of heterosexual transmission of the virus, vaccination of one sex also protects the other, Bogaards said.
If you have a limited amount of vaccine, vaccinating 100 percent of women and 0 percent of men will lead to a greater reduction in HPV infections than vaccinating 50 percent of women and 50 percent of men, Bogaards said.
In addition, in most cases, the best strategy is to vaccine the sex that has the highest prevalence of the disease. HPV is more prevalent in women because it causes longer and more persistent infections in women than in men, Bogaards said.
My Health News Daily & Plos Medicine