Gardasil 9, the recent version of the Gardasil human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine prevents infections and disease associated with human papillomavirus in women.
Warner Huh, M.D., professor and director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Gynecologic Oncology told that the vaccine has the potential to dramatically reduce rates of cervical cancer, as well as the number of cervical exams a women must have during her lifetime.
"There is no question that the vaccine works. Now, we have a second-generation vaccine that protects against 90 percent of the HPV viruses that cause cervical cancer. This vaccine can literally eradicate the majority of cervical cancer, if given widely and appropriately," Huh said.
The nine-valent HPV vaccine is an advance from the four-valent HPV vaccine, Gardasil approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006. The latest version immunizes against nine genotypes of HPV known to cause cervical cancer.
Gardasil targets four genotypes that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancer. The new vaccine includes those four and five additional genotypes. Both vaccines should be given before women are exposed to possible HPV infection through intimate contact.
"We're really on the verge of a dramatic change that will positively affect all individuals, particularly women, in the United States. The challenge will be to get the new vaccine into widespread use among young women," said Huh.
Gardasil 9 vaccine requires three injections taken at day one, month two and month six like the four-valent vaccine. The FDA approved Gardasil 9 in December 2014 for use in females aged 9-26 and males aged 9-15.
"The real issue is we need to improve vaccination rates in this country. The population benefit seen in countries like Australia has been truly impressive. We should learn and adopt their vaccination practices," Huh said.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 12,109 U.S. women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2011 and 4,092 died. It is commonly known that most cervical cancer is caused by HPV infection of the cervix.