The creator of the human papilloma virus vaccine, Professor Ian Frazer, visited Cambodia yesterday and stated that vaccination prior to sexual activity was a crucial step in protecting against infections that can cause cervical cancer.
Professor Frazer told an audience at the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh yesterday that 80 percent of HPV infections are contracted within three years of becoming sexually active.
“[About] 70 to 80 percent of women who are sexually active get the virus,” he said. “The public health benefit comes from vaccinating young women before they become sexually active.”
Genital HPV infections are primarily transmitted through sexual intercourse and are linked to most cases of cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine is administered in three doses and has been given to over 60 million women worldwide.
Professor Frazer added that two HPV vaccines on the market protect against virus types 16 and 18, which cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers.
An HPV vaccination programme began in Cambodia in June 2008.