HPV vaccination in girls from the age of 9

HPV vaccination in girls from the age of 9

Girls should be vaccinated against HPV earlier on the recommendation of the Stiko

Human papilloma viruses (HP viruses or HPV) are pathogens that can cause inflammation and skin changes. In most cases, these enter the skin or mucous membrane through sexual or oral intercourse and multiply there inside the cells. Infection usually goes unnoticed and heals itself. However, some of the viruses also persisted, causing cell changes from which a malignant tumor can develop over time. In order to protect girls and women from infection, the Permanent Vaccination Commission (Stiko) currently recommends vaccination at the age of 9 to 14 years.

40 types of "genital HPV" known Since human papilloma viruses (HP viruses or HPV) are widespread, most men and women become infected with HPV at least once in the course of their life. The fours can be transmitted with every intimate skin contact, whereby an infection usually goes unnoticed, causes no symptoms and also heals itself. About 40 types of HPV are sexually transmitted and are therefore also called "genital HPV". These are divided into so-called "low-risk types" (nrHPV) and "high-risk types" (hrHPV). While low-risk HPV "only" causes unpleasant, but harmless warts in the genital area (genital warts), "high-risk HPV can lead to cell changes which, in rare cases, develop into a malignant tumor of the cervix (cervical cancer) over the years". Twelve hrHPV types are considered to be particularly dangerous here, the most common are types 16 and 18.

Vaccination makes more sense at the age of 9 to 14 years. Even condoms cannot reliably protect against HPV because they cannot cover all areas of the genital area that may be affected. Girls and women should therefore be vaccinated before the first sexual intercourse. However, since this time is often missed, vaccination should in future be carried out significantly earlier than previously on the recommendation of the Standing Committee on Vaccination (Stiko) of the Robert Koch Institute. According to this, girls should not be vaccinated until the age of 12 to 17, but already at the age of 9 to 14. "In Germany, the age of the first sexual intercourse is on average 15 years," said Hans-Iko Huppertz, director of the children's clinic Bremen-Mitte to "Spiegel Online". Accordingly, the correct time of vaccination is particularly important, because "since the vaccination is no longer effective if there is already an infection it is important to vaccinate it beforehand. " However, there is obviously still a lot of catching up to do in Germany with HPV vaccination, because according to the RKI only between 30 and 45 percent of young women have received vaccination protection, depending on their age. For expert Huppertz, Stiko's recommendation therefore brings new hope: "The younger children are often still in the care of pediatricians, who can also relieve parents' fears of vaccination."

Vaccination appears to be more effective in younger girls than in older ones. According to Huppertz ’, Stiko's recommendation should therefore be regarded as" very useful ". Also because studies would indicate that vaccination was more effective in younger girls than in older ones. Accordingly, 13- and 14-year-old girls would need “only” two doses of the Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines, whereas older three would need it. If the vaccination has been given by the age of 18, it can effectively protect against the two "high-risk" viruses 16 and 18, which in most cases are responsible for the development of cervical cancer. However, vaccination does not offer 100% certainty either - this is why experts repeatedly recommend taking the usual early screening tests for cervical cancer.

Critics point to the uncertain data situation. This is also one of the main criticisms, because skeptics fear that vaccination will make women feel too safe and thereby be reckless. In addition, there are also some critics who do not yet have reliable data on the success of vaccination, since this has only been carried out for a few years. However, since malignant tumors would often only develop after many years, it is difficult to collect exact numbers of cancer cases that have been prevented. Nevertheless, the first studies seem to show that the HPV vaccination has been successful: For example, a study funded by the pharmaceutical company "GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals" with more than 17,000 participants showed that vaccination within four years was one in a hundred girls and young women facing a risky one Had protected mucosal changes on the cervix. "A population-wide vaccination that includes the HPV-16/18 vaccine and high coverage in early adolescence could potentially have the potential to significantly reduce the incidence of cervical cancer," said the HPV PATRICIA Study Group scientists Gary Dubin in an article in The Lancet. (Nr)

Author and source information