The World Health Organization (WHO) is now recommending that national immunization programs include routine vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) for young adolescent girls.
WHO recommends HPV vaccine in countries where preventing cervical cancer is a public health priority, programs and financing are sustainable, and cost-effectiveness has been considered.
WHO does not give a preference for one vaccine over the other, but the organization recommends that policymakers evaluate factors such as the prevailing HPV-related disease, vaccine efficacy for that disease, the target population for whom the vaccine is approved, price, supply, and cold-chain requirements.
A coordinated strategy should be implemented including education about reducing risks, screening for cervical cancer, and diagnosis and treatment of disease. However, WHO does not recommend postponing vaccination if these strategies cannot be implemented right away.
An estimated 260,000 women die of cervical cancer and about 500,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. Rates of cervical cancer are highest in many parts of the developing world. The disease generally occurs among women over 40.
The recommendations are published in the April 9, 2009 Weekly Epidemiological Record.
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