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Int J Cancer. 2018 Mar 1;142(5):949-958. doi: 10.1002/ijc.31119. Epub 2017 Nov 9.

Impact of gender-neutral or girls-only vaccination against human papillomavirus-Results of a community-randomized clinical trial (I).

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge, Sweden.
Department of Clinical Microbiology, Skåne University Hospital, Lund, Sweden.
Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki and Oulu, Finland.
Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.
VL Medi, Helsinki, Finland.
Department of Infections and Cancer, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon, France.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Helsinki, Finland.
Takeda Pharmaceuticals International, Switzerland.
Gates Foundation, Seattle, WA.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is efficacious but the real-life effectiveness of gender-neutral and girls-only vaccination strategies is unknown. We report a community-randomized trial on the protective effectiveness [(PE) = vaccine efficacy (VE) + herd effect (HE)] of the two strategies among females in virtually HPV vaccination naïve population. We randomized 33 Finnish communities into Arm A) gender-neutral vaccination with AS04-adjuvanted HPV16/18 vaccine (11 communities), Arm B) HPV vaccination of girls and hepatitis B-virus (HBV) vaccination of boys (11 communities) or Arm C) gender-neutral HBV vaccination (11 communities). All resident 39,420 females and 40,852 males born 1992-95 were invited in 2007-09. Virtually all (99%) 12- to 15-year-old participating males (11,662) and females (20,513) received three doses resulting in uniform 20-30% male and 50% female vaccination coverage by birth cohort. Four years later (2010-14) 11,396 cervicovaginal samples obtained from 18.5 year-old women were tested for HPV DNA, and prevalence of cervical HPV infections by trial arm and birth cohort was the main outcome measure. VEs against HPV16/18 varied between 89.2% and 95.2% across birth cohorts in arms A and B. The VEs against non-vaccine types consistent with cross-protection were highest in those born 1994-95 for HPV45 (VEA 82.8%; VEB 86.1%) and for HPV31 (VEA 77.6%, VEB 84.6%). The HEs in the non HPV-vaccinated were statistically significant in those born 1994-95 for HPV18 (HEA 51.0%; 95% CI 8.3-73.8, HEB 47.2%; 6.5-70.2) and for HPV31/33 in arm A (HEA 53.7%; 22.1-72.5). For HPV16 and 45 no significant herd effects were detected. PE estimates against HPV16/18 were similar by both strategies (PEA 58.1%; 45.1-69.4; PEB 55.7%; 42.9-66.6). PE estimates against HPV31/33 were higher by the gender-neutral vaccination (PEA 60.5%; 43.6-73.4; PEB 44.5%; 24.9-60.6). In conclusion, while gender-neutral strategy enhanced the effectiveness of HPV vaccination for cross-protected HPV types with low to moderate coverage, high coverage in males appears to be key to providing a substantial public health benefit also to unvaccinated females. Trial registration NCT000534638.

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