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  • HPV immunisation rate have significantly improved

    Author: AAP

The Immunisation Coalition says it's important parents grasp the importance of having their boys immunised against the human papillomavirus (HPV).

Australia is winning the immunisation battle against the human papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of cervical cancer and other sexually transmitted infections.

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A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows rates of girls immunised against HPV have significantly improved.

However the immunisation rates for boys and some country communities lag behind.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection which affects about four out of five people at some point in their lives.


Clinical Nurse
Frontline Health Brisbane

Immunising girls and boys against HPV can prevent a range of cancers, including cervical cancer, and other conditions such as genital warts.

A school-based National HPV Vaccination Program for girls began in 2007, and was extended to include boys in 2013.

Nationally, the percentage of girls fully immunised at age 15 has continued to improve, from 72 per cent in 2012/13, to about 74 per cent in 2013/14, and almost 79 per cent in 2014/15.

Thursday's AIHW report, Healthy Communities: HPV immunisation rates in 2014/15, presents local-level information for Australia's 31 Primary Health Network (PHN) areas and more than 80 smaller local areas.

Across Australia's 31 PHN areas, the highest rates of immunisation for girls were recorded in Murrumbidgee (NSW) at 86 per cent.

The PHN areas with the lowest immunisation rates were Tasmania at 67 per cent, Country SA (69 per cent) and Gold Coast (70 per cent).

It's hoped by releasing the local rates of HPV immunisation school-based managers and local health system managers gain a better understanding where improvement was needed, said AIHW spokesman Michael Frost.

Rates for girls have improved in most areas, with the greatest increases in NSW areas. A small number of areas in Western Australia recorded a decrease in immunisation rates.

"When looking at the smaller local areas, we see greater variation, with HPV immunisation rates for girls varying by nearly 30 percentage points," Mr Frost said.

For boys, more than two-thirds, about 67 per cent, of boys aged 15 were fully immunised in 2014/15, while rates across PHN areas ranged from about 57 per cent to 78 per cent.

Professor Paul Van Buynder, chairman of the Immunisation Coalition says this is a report on two-year-old data but does show there is cause for "cautious" optimism.

"The overall trend is important, it is telling us that we are winning the battle but we still have a lot of work to do," Prof Van Buynder told AAP.

"Our rates are continuing to go up - it's just they're not going up, perhaps, as quickly as we like," he added.

He says it's important parents grasp the importance that boys are vaccinated too.

"One third of all HPV cancers occur in males and the increasing cancers of the head and neck and the other genital cancers are occurring in the boys," said Prof Van Buynder.


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