Infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to development of cervical cancer. For this reason HPV now plays an important role in cervical cancer prevention. For example, HPV vaccination programmes are established in several countries worldwide, including Ireland, where a national school based HPV vaccination programme began in 2010.
The vaccine does not protect against all HPV as it only targets the main HPV types. So it is important that all women, aged 25- 60, continue to have regular cervical smear tests through the CervicalCheck programme. Very soon the first set of women who have received the vaccine through the school programme, will be eligible to attend for their first CervicalCheck smear. It is important that we monitor the impact of vaccination in those that have received the vaccine to identify if it reduces the prevalence of HPV and cytological abnormalities. It is also important that we look at how the current tests we use for cervical screening in unvaccinated women perform in women who have received the vaccine. Furthermore, it is vital to understand if whether a woman is vaccinated (or not) affects whether she attends for screening.
In CERVIVA-Vax, we will (1) investigate the number and type of HPV infections detected in women who have received the HPV vaccine and attend cervical screening; (2) explore how current screening tests perform in women who are vaccinated; (3) observe screening uptake in vaccinated women compared to unvaccinated women.
Changes in screening uptake, HPV infections and detection of cervical abnormalities may have an adverse effect on how well screening works for individual women and the population. By investigating the early impact of HPV vaccination on screening in Ireland, CERVIVA-Vax will be able to inform CervicalCheck, and international screening programmes, of the best cervical screening approach for both vaccinated and unvaccinated women.
Project Partners/collaborators: Trinity College Dublin (Lead), CervicalCheck, The National Cervical Screening Programme, Newcastle University, The National Immunisation Office, The Coombe Women and Infants UNiversity Hospital
Funding: Health Research Board, Ireland
Additional support: Roche Molecular Diagnostics, and MSD