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Study backs use of cervical cancer vaccine

Researchers who have completed the broadest regional study of the Human Papilloma Virus—which causes cervical cancer—have urged policymakers across the Caribbean and Latin America to continue distributing the HPV vaccine.

Cervical cancer is a major public health problem in the region, with ‘‘some of the highest incidence and mortality rates worldwide,’’ according to the report, available in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) online journal One.

Cervical cancer represents the second-most common malignancy in women around the world, with the Caribbean accounting for 11 per cent of the global death toll from cancer of the cervix.

‘‘Since cervical cancer affects relatively young women, it represents the single biggest cause of years of life lost from cancer in the developing world, contributing more to this burden of disease measure than do tuberculosis, maternal conditions or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS),’’ the authors state.

This study comes when some Caribbean countries are evaluating the introduction of the HPV vaccine in their national vaccination schedules.

The researchers checked thousands of research articles in a dozen international and regional databases to produce their meta-analysis.

A total of 79 studies from 18 countries, involving 7,986 women, met the inclusion criteria. Research from Cuba, Barbados and Jamaica was used.

Given recent medical advances, ministries should also consider ‘‘updating screening strategies using type-specific high-risk HPV-DNA-based tests,’’ said the researchers.

The team included Agustín Ciapponi, Ariel Bardach, Demián Glujovsky and Luz Gibbons from the Institute for Clinical Effectiveness and Health Policy (IECS) in Argentina.

The IECS helped support the study, with an independent grant from the GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical company.

Another author, María Alejandra Picconi from Argentina’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases, is credited with involvement in every stage of the project, from conceiving, designing and performing the experiment to analysing the data and writing the paper.