The HPV vaccine is working: 40% decline in men's oral infection rates

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() The HPV vaccine is driving down oral infection rates and moving the US closer towards 'herd immunity', a new study suggests.

Researchers found that, between 2009 and 2016, oral HPV infections among unvaccinated men fell by about 40 percent.

The team, from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, says they believe men are becoming further protected from becoming infected - even if they haven't received the jab - because HPV vaccination rates are rising among women.

They add that not only are the findings encouraging because rates of the sexually-transmitted infection (STI) are falling, but that this will likely lead to fewer cancer diagnoses every year. 

A new study from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, says that unvaccinated men are being protected by 'herd immunity' because rates of HPV vaccination in women are rising (file image)

A new study from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, says that unvaccinated men are being protected by 'herd immunity' because rates of HPV vaccination in women are rising (file image) 

HPV, short for Human papillomavirus, is the most common STI in the US, affecting around 79 million people. 

It has been linked to numerous cancers - including prostate, throat, head and neck, rectal and cervical cancer.

Since the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006, 79 countries and territories have implemented publicly funded national HPV vaccination programs.

In the US, the vaccine is offered in two or three doses over the course of six months to girls who are between 11 and 12, with a catch-up series recommended no later than age 26.

In 2011, the vaccine was also recommended for boys of the same age.  

But both health experts and the general public have wondered if expanding vaccine coverage has had the desire effect yet.

For the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the team looked at data on oral HPV infections in the US between 2009-2016.

From the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, they examined rates in unvaccinated men and women from ages 18 to 59.

Researchers found

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