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Introducing human papillomavirus vaccines into the health system in South Africa

Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2012.03.032
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Hpv Vaccines
  • South Africa


Abstract South Africa has a high incidence of cervical cancer, with an age-standardised rate of approximately 27 per 100,000. In 2000, South Africa launched a national screening programme for cervical cancer prevention, offering three Papanicolaou smears per lifetime starting after the age of 30 with 10-year intervals. However, in the public sector, this national screening programme has not been implemented widely. Vaccination would offer the best primary prevention. Currently there are two HPV vaccines registered in South Africa: the bivalent vaccine Cervarix™, containing VLP antigens for oncogenic HPV types 16 and 18; and the quadrivalent vaccine Gardasil™, containing VLP antigens for HPV types 16 and 18, as well as non-oncogenic HPV types 6 and 11, which are the most common types causing genital warts. The vaccines are recommended for prophylactic use, and should ideally be given before exposure to HPV, which is before sexual debut, to girls aged 11–12 years. Possible routes for delivering the HPV vaccine could be either the routine EPI programme at the age of 12 years when dT is being administered, or through the school system, e.g. to girls attending grade 5 or 6.

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