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12. New Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Protects Against 9 Strains


In December the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new "9-valent" human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine from Merck that protects against more cancer-causing strains. The new Gardasil 9 vaccine is expected to prevent about 90% of cervical, anal, and genital cancers. The vaccine is approved for young women ages 9-26 and young men ages 9-15.

The new vaccine is approved for the prevention of cervical, vulvar, vaginal, and anal cancers caused by HPV types 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58, and for the prevention of genital warts caused by HPV types 6 or 11. The 5 additional HPV types that were not included in the older quadrivalent Gardasil vaccine cause approximately 20% percent of cervical cancers.

People with HIV are more prone to anal and cervical dysplasia (abnormal cell changes) due to HPV, which if left untreated can progress to cancer. Evidence increasingly suggests that HIV positive people could benefit from HPV vaccines even if they are above the recommended age range. An expert committee in the U.K. recently recommended that HPV vaccination programs should be extended to gay men ages 16-40.

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