Cervical cancer continues to be a major public health problem responsible for more deaths than maternal mortality. This is a preventable tragedy given the availability of highly efficacious methods of primary and secondary prevention.
Prophylactic HPV vaccination prevents infection with HPV 16 and 18, the causative strains for 70% of cervical cancers and 85% of cancers in India. Longitudinal data are now available that show a significant reduction in HPV infections and cervical pre-malignant lesions in vaccinated populations. The data support efficacy, safety and acceptability of these vaccines.
The WHO has already endorsed a two dose regime for the vaccine to girls between 9-14 years of age. In girls aged over 15 years, 3 doses need to be given. GAVI-eligible countries can now procure HPV vaccines at nominal rates.
Women aged >30 years should receive regular cervical screening by VIA or HPV testing and two dose HPV vaccinationfor girls aged 9–12 years should become a public health priority. National and International health agenciesmust work together to implement universal cancer screening and make HPV vaccination affordable and accessible.