HCM CITY (VNS)— Boys as well as girls between eight and 14 years old should be vaccinated against the human papilloma virus (HPV) to protect them against cancer, a prominent cancer researcher has said.
Professor Harald zur Hausen of the German Cancer Research Centre in Heidelberg spoke yesterday during the fourth ASEAN event series, Bridges and Dialogues toward a Culture of Peace, which is taking place in Viet Nam and Thailand from November through March.
A Nobel Laureate for Medicine in 2008, Hausen told students and lecturers at HCM City's University of Medicine and Pharmacy that more than 5 per cent of all cancer cases worldwide were caused by persistent HPV infections.
It is the most common sexually transmitted agent, affecting 50-80 per cent of the population worldwide.
Of the more than 100 HPV types that are known, about 40 infect the genital tract, and 15 put women at high risk for cervical cancer, according to Hausen.
"HPV can be detected in more than 99 per cent of women with confirmed cervical cancer, affecting some 500,000 women per year, most of them in developing countries," he said.
Against the prevailing view during the 1970s, Hausen postulated a role for HPV in cervical cancer.
After more than 10 years of research, he identified the HPV 16 and 18 types viruses and then developed vaccines against them.
The vaccines provide more than 95 per cent protection from infection by high-risk HPV 16 and 18 types, according to the professor.
"The vaccine also reduces the need for surgery and the global burden of cervical cancer," he added. — VNS