HPV Vaccine Might Not Protect African-American Women

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When Duke University School of Medicine professor Cathrine Hoyo set out to figure out why, with comparable screening practices, the rates of cervical cancer and mortality are higher among African-American women than white women, she found a disparity in the subtypes of HPV each group gets infected with. In findings presented at the International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research today, the most common strains in white women were 16, 18, 56, 39, and 66, whereas 33, 35, 58, and 68 were most prevalent in African-American women. The HPV vaccine only covers 16 and 18, which occurred half as often in African-Americas in the study’s sample of 572 women. A new vaccine covering nine strains is in the works, but it still won’t help African-American women equally. "The most disconcerting part of this new vaccine is it doesn't include HPV 35, 66 and 68, three of the strains of HPV of which African-American women are getting the most," Hoyo said. "We may want to rethink how we develop these vaccines, given that African-Americans tend to be underrepresented in clinical trials."