Australia’s Labor government has set the ambitious goal of becoming the first in the world to eliminate cervical cancer by 2028, seven years ahead of schedule, by intensifying the rollout of the vaccine for human papillomavirus, or HPV, and cervical screening rates.
Believed to be a significant precursor to cervical cancer, they advocate the HPV vaccine as pivotal in preventing the disease.
However, some types of HPV are persistent and may transform into precancerous cells, which is why screening is recommended.
The Australian government has invested $48.2 million (US$31.6 million) to expedite eradication efforts.
Currently, 90 percent of girls are targeted for the HPV vaccination before they turn 15, with the program now extended to include boys, aiming to reduce the risk of genital warts and precancerous lesions caused by HPV.
Further, people aged 25 to 74 will be targeted for screening every five years as opposed to just twice in their lifetime.
Given that the HPV vaccine does not provide foolproof protection against all HPV types, a cervical screening test is advised every five years, even for those vaccinated against HPV.
Australia’s Assistant Health Minister Ged Kearney expressed the significance of the commitment, stating, “Australia has always punched above its weight when it comes to cervical cancer, and now Australia is on track to be the first country in the world to eliminate this deadly disease.”
“The enormity of this announcement cannot be understated.
Studies Uncover a LinkRecent studies suggest that the overall level of protection conferred by the HPV vaccine is estimated to be around 60 percent, and up to 88 percent for younger girls.
However, infectious disease specialist Dr. Yuhong Dong raised questions about the reliability of claims being made for the HPV vaccines.
“The claims being made for the HPV vaccines are typically based on observational or registry studies.”
Engaging in sex for the first time on or before age 16 or between 17 to 20 years of age increased the risk of developing invasive cervical cancer by 2.3 and 1.8 times, respectively, compared with women over age 21.
Oral contraceptives have also been found to considerably increase the relative risk of cervical cancer.
She said that many studies do not account for these salient factors, undermining the validity of their conclusions.
“While some studies may have attempted to account for factors such as age at first sexual activity or age at first pregnancy, monitoring and controlling the number of sexual partners during a long-term HPV vaccine study can be challenging,” she said.
This would require close monitoring of study subjects and their sexual behaviours over an extended period of time.
Nurturing Nature’s Inbuilt MechanismsAdvocating a holistic approach, Dr. Dong underscores the effectiveness of natural immunity as the optimal defense against persistent HPV—with zero side effects.
“Regardless of whether or not someone receives an HPV vaccination, our natural immunity remains essential to our protection against persistent HPV,” she said.
“Eating healthy food, maintaining quality sleep and a healthy weight, exercising, mindfulness programs, meditation, and stress-reduction techniques are all helpful to our immunity.”
“Natural immunity does not only fight against the virus, it also fights against cancer. Our immunity is dynamic, resourceful, and able to combat numerous viral variations, especially when the virus keeps changing after HPV vaccination,” she added.
The HPV vaccine, Gardasil, was invented in Australia in 2006 by University of Queensland researchers Ian Frazer and Jian Zhou.
It is administered to all Australian schoolchildren aged 12 to 13 as part of the country’s immunisation program.