Reason #1. HPV is a global burden
Cervical cancer is the 4th leading cause of death in all females, and the 2nd most common cause of death in women 15-44 years of age (1). There are 3.4 million cases of cervical cancer globally, with 528,000 new cases annually (2, 3). Of these, 266,000 women die from cervical cancer each year (4).
Cancer of the cervix has been linked to the human papillomavirus, otherwise known as HPV. HPV is a sexually-transmitted infection, with rates far surpassing that of HIV, chlamydia, HSV-2, and Hepatitis B (5). 75-80% of sexually active adults will have encountered the HPV virus at some point in their lives. Although many clear the virus, persistent infection in a proportion of individuals can lead to the development of cancer. In addition to cervical cancer, this ubiquitous virus can also cause cancers of the vulvar, vagina, oral, and anal regions, as well as genital warts.
There is an uneven burden of cervical cancer across the world with mortality rates 10 times higher in Africa than in North America (6). While the prevalence varies by region, the cancer-causing strains that vaccines protect against are responsible for at least 87% of cervical cancers worldwide, with little regional variation (7). Consequently, the HPV vaccine would be effective in any part of the world.
Reason #2. Current screening methods are not sufficient
While current screening methods are satisfactory at capturing the majority of early cancers, they have their limitations in test sensitivity (8). Despite the implementation of effective screening programs there are 1,300 new cases of cervical cancer annually and 443 resulting deaths in Canada alone (9).