The human papillomavirus (HPV) can easily be passed from person to person during sex. There are a number of strains of HPV and some can lead to cervical cancer over time. The virus is common, and most people are in contact with it during some point of their lives. Since most individuals don't express symptoms, it can easily be unknowingly spread.1 In the last several years, females have been getting the HPV vaccine to reduce the spread of the virus. However, until now, this has been done over the course of three visits, as three shots were required for effectiveness.
One shot is enough
By way of the Costa Rica HPV16/18 Vaccine Trial, researchers have found that just one dose of the HPV vaccine may do the trick of protecting against the virus.2 When looking at the amount of antibodies produced in women who received one, two and three doses of the vaccine, it was found that they were all equal and remained stable over the course of a four-year period. Additionally, participants who only received one shot had immune responses that were five to nine times stronger than those who were infected with the virus naturally. This is in line with previous research that found three doses did not help protect HPV any better than one or two.
"The fact that [antibody levels] remained higher than natural infection, and remained stable, is a promising finding," Mahboobeh Safaeian, researcher on the study, said in a statement according to LiveScience.3
However, it should be noted that further investigations are required to see how less doses affects females for longer periods of time. Still, this trial, which included 3,500 females ages 18 to 25, provides promising results. Since medical professionals have found previous challenges with giving three doses of the vaccine, one shot being enough could help to increase the number of patients who are vaccinated. When this vaccine was first developed, researchers were unsure how many doses would be required for protection. So, they simply followed past schedules for preventing other viruses, such as Hepatitis B.
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1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Cervical cancer risk factors" September 3, 2013
2 American Association for Cancer Research, "Durable antibody responses following one dose of the bivalent human papillomavirus L1 virus-like particle vaccine in the Costa Rica Vaccine Trial" November, 2013
3 LiveScience, "HPV vaccine: one dose may be enough" November 4, 2013