Human papillomavirus (HPV), HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancer, and HPV vaccine in the United States--do we need a broader vaccine policy?
BACKGROUND: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) of global importance; it is the most prevalent STI in the United States, with strains causally linked to oropharyngeal and other cancers. Efforts to prevent HPV have been made to varying degrees by policies implemented by different state governments; however, HPV and associated oropharyngeal cancer continue to show increasing incidence rates in the US. DESIGN: A narrative review based on search on SciVerse, PubMed/Medline, Google Scholar, and EMBASE databases, as well as literature/documents from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Cancer Society, National Conference of State legislatures, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services relevant to HPV and HPV vaccine policy in the US. RESULTS: Vaccination has proved to be a successful policy in the US, and an extant recommendation aimed at preventing HPV and associated cervical and other anogenital cancers is the routine use of HPV vaccines for males and females. However, HPV vaccines are presently not recommended for preventing oropharyngeal cancer, although they have been shown to be highly effective against the HPV strains that are most commonly found in the oropharynx. And while there is a history of successful vaccine mandate in the US with resulting decrease in occurrence of infectious diseases, implementing HPV vaccine mandate has proved to be very unpopular. CONCLUSIONS: With emerging evidence of the efficacy of the use of the HPV vaccine in preventing oral-HPV, more focus should be put on extending HPV vaccine to present oral HPV infection and oropharyngeal cancer. Also, implementing a broader HPV vaccine policy that include mandating HPV vaccines as a school-entry requirement for both sexes may increase vaccine use in the US for the greater good of the public.
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