Researchers at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., reported Wednesday that an experimental human papillomavirus vaccine currently in clinical trials appears promising in preventing infections with two strains of the virus linked to most cases of cervical cancer, Agence France-Presse reports. Speaking at the 43rd Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Chicago, the researchers said preliminary data from a trial of 1,100 women showed that the vaccine was 100% effective in preventing HPV infections. A separate trial conducted last year also yielded encouraging results.
The researchers say the vaccine, given in three separate doses, could potentially prevent up to 75% of the 500,000 cases of cervical cancer reported annually around the world. Vaccine developers hope to have the vaccine on the market within three to five years. Researchers say the vaccine will likely be effective only in women who have not had repeated HPV infections. The vaccine has not yet been studied among men.
HPV is a common sexually transmitted disease among sexually active gay and straight men and women. About half of all gay men are believed to carry the virus, with the figure rising to about 90% for HIV-positive gay men. HPV can lead to the development of genital and anal warts and, in addition to being linked with cervical cancer in women, is also believed to be linked with the development of anal cancer in men.