The world’s first cancer vaccine was administered a decade ago in Australia. The vaccine protects against the human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer. Since the vaccine was instituted in Australia, there has been a 90 percent reduction in HPV infections. The vaccine has now been introduced in more than 130 countries and has halved the number of new cases of cervical cancers.
HPV is an extremely common virus that lives in skin cells in intimate areas and is propagated either through skin-to-skin or genital contact. Many people are carriers without knowing it.
“If we vaccinate enough people, we will eliminate these viruses because they only infect humans,” said Professor Ian Frazer, the chief executive of the Translation Research Institute, who believes that the vaccine could eradicate cancers caused by HPV by 2055. The vaccine also protects against oropharyngeal cancer, a type of mouth cancer caused by the same virus.