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Australian study sees 70% HPV reduction in gay and bisexual men

Published on 26/05/21 at 10:03am

A school-based human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination study programme, led by Monash University and Alfred Health, found a 70% reduction in one type of HPV in gay and bisexual men.

The HYPER2 study, published in Lancet Infectious Diseases, found there was a significant reduction in all four vaccine-preventable genotypes in gay and bisexual men aged between 16 and 20 years following the introduction of the vaccine for boys in 2013.

The study was run in Australia, and is the first to show that the implementation of the gender-neutral programme can reduce high-risk anal HPV and potentially reduce the incidence of anal cancer in gay and bisexual men.

The HYPER2 cross-sectional study recruited 400 gay and bisexual men with a median age of 19 years from sexual health clinics and the community in Melbourne.  The results were compared with the HYPER1 group of 200 gay/bisexual men pre-vaccination in 2010-2012 and the HYPER2 group of 200 gay/bisexual men post-vaccination in 2017-2018.

Data from the study show a reduction in anal quadrivalent genotypes, from 28% down to 7.3%, and penile quadrivalent genotypes also lower in the post-vaccination group, 6.1% compared to 11.9%.

Associate Professor, Eric Chow, said: “Australia has a very successful HPV vaccination programme for both boys and girls with high vaccine coverage. The vaccine is effective in reducing HPV-related diseases and showing some promising evidence that this may lead to a reduction in HPV-related cancer in the future.”

Anal cancer incidence has increased globally among men over the last three decades and is overrepresented among gay and bisexual men, particularly those living with HIV. Results from the HYPER2 study suggest that male vaccination may lead to a potential reduction in anal cancer among gay and bisexual men in Australia, which is similar to the reduction in cervical cancer among Australian women after the HPV vaccination program launched in 2007.

The vaccine covers four genotypes: 6/11/16/18. Genotypes 6/11 cause about 90% of the genital wart cases and genotypes 16/18 cause about 70% of cervical and anal cancers. 

Kat Jenkins

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