The human papilloma virus (HPV) is the most common viral sexually transmitted infection. The formulation of appropriate recommendations for use of prophylactic HPV vaccines in Australia requires data on the pattern of HPV infection by age and Indigenous status and which is generalisable at the population level. This will be useful pre-vaccine rollout to ultimately measure the vaccine effectiveness, including the use of disease modelling to estimate likely vaccine impacts.

The pilot study focused on two communities, one remote Indigenous community and one urban Indigenous community, to test and refine information, training materials and data collection processes in consultation with primary health care staff and community members. Preliminary work was required to undertake further consultations with Aboriginal Medical Services and other Indigenous health organisations, to develop information materials to inform Indigenous women about HPV infection and the proposed research study, and to develop clinical guidelines for health care providers and for women who are found to have an HPV infection with a cancer-causing genotype.

There were several funding bodies (including the CRCAH) for this study to support the development of information materials and to support the Indigenous steering committee. The pilot study was the first-stage of a wider project that has sites in Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, Northern Territory, New South Wales and Tasmania.

Results of this pilot study were used in modeling of the vaccination impact of HPV vaccines in the Australian population. Information obtained was useful in estimating the likely impact of vaccination against HPV infection in Australia, especially those at high risk of cervical cancer (ICC). In the longer term, the study will provide essential baseline information on types of HPV affecting Australian women over time, important in evaluating the impact of a vaccination program.

Related resources:

Investigating cross-cultural responses to the introduction of the Human papillomavirus [HPV] vaccine

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