Expert interview: HPV vaccination: a shot for cancer prevention

Starting in February, the HPV vaccination for children, adolescents, and young adults from 9 to 21 years old will be free. This was announced in November 2022 by Health Minister Johannes Rauch and Defense Minister Claudia Tanner together with the head of the cancer program Paul Sevelda at a press conference.

Graz surroundings. Human papilloma virus, that is Human papilloma virus It refers to a group of DNA viruses that can cause uncontrolled tumor-like growth when infected. Therefore, vaccination serves Cancer prevention. Depending on the federal state, free HPV vaccination can be obtained from general practitioners or vaccination centers. A supporter of HPV vaccination Christian Shower. St Oswalder Abbey, Gynecological tumors In Gratwein-Stra├čengel, former chair of the Working Group on Gynecologic Oncology (abbreviated AGO).

"The more men and women are vaccinated, the less viruses spread"says Christian Schauer. The HPV vaccination has been widely discussed – why is it so important?
Christian Shower: HPV is responsible for precancerous lesions that can lead to cervical cancer. According to the AGO, about 7,000 operations must be performed each year because of these precancerous lesions. The result is a high level of suffering for affected patients and huge costs for the healthcare system. At least a high percentage of this can be avoided with HPV vaccination.
new Scientific knowledge showed that the HPV vaccine provides a high level of protection against cancer and can also be used after surgery for precancerous lesions in order to prevent the precancerous lesion from coming back again. Vaccination after cervical disease protects two-thirds from a recurrent or new precancerous stage.


In Austria, about 400 women develop cervical cancer each year, and 98 percent of cases can be attributed to HPV infection. The World Health Organization has set itself the goal of eliminating cervical cancer by 2030, provided that the vaccination rate is 90 percent. In Austria, there has been a recommendation since 2007 to vaccinate girls and boys.

But the infection doesn’t only affect women, right?
HPV number It affects both sexes. At least six different types of cancer are caused by HPV, three of which only affect men. Cervical cancer in women has already declined due to good preventative care, but there is a rapid increase in oropharyngeal cancer in men.

How does vaccination help?
They effectively prevent new infections. This is independent of age, although the vaccination program or a Vaccinate as soon as possible proves to be more effective. Every woman over the age of 30 is strongly advised to take an HPV test, such as the ones known Pap smears (Editor’s note: Short for Papanicolaou, cell smear from the cervix) It works. However, it is more effective in early detection of precursors of cancer. Another 60 percent of all cases of cervical cancer can be prevented with an HPV test.

What is the vaccination schedule?
The focus is on primary schools from ages nine to twelve. Early vaccination produces the best immune response. But even then it makes sense, which is why the free vaccination program has been expanded. Vaccination makes sense even later, there is no upper age limit. Early vaccination can help.

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