Cervical cancer vaccine in the Indian population: Current trends and challenges ahead

Vaccine-PhialsCervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in Indian women. Vaccination remains the method of choice for its primary prevention. Several studies, all over world have reported the excellent efficacy and safety of the currently available HPV vaccine. But there are certain barriers for vaccination in India, like the cost of vaccination, vaccine coverage, and social acceptance of this vaccination.

Incidences of cervical cancer in India

Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers among Indian women and is estimated to have been responsible for 134,420 new cases and 72,825 deaths in the year 2008. India has the largest burden of deaths due to cervical cancer and contributes to 25.4% and 26.5% of the global burden of cervical cancer cases and mortality, respectively [1,2].

Key Point: All of the available current epidemiological evidence and cancer surveillance systems justify the HPV vaccination programme in India. So, there is a need to take a step forward to increase the HPV vaccination for reducing morbidity due to the cervical cancer. It is important to raise general awareness about STDs and HPV, to educate the masses through different media, to destigmatize HPV infection, and to achieve acceptance of mass vaccination of pre-adolescent and adolescent girls before HPV vaccination is introduced.

HPV vaccines and strains

Almost all cervical cancers are initiated by HPV infections, with just two HPV types, 16 and 18, responsible for about 70 percent of all cases in India [3]. Currently, two HPV vaccines are available in India. A bivalent vaccine Cervarix™ made by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) that protects against HPV strains 16 and 18, and a quadrivalent vaccine Gardasil™ by Merck, which protects against HPV strains 16, 18, 6 and 11 [4,5]. The other two strains (6 & 11) in Gardasil™ are useful in preventing Anogenital warts.

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