The human papilloma virus (HPV) prophylactic vaccine
Carcinoma of the cervix is the most common cancer of women in Africa comprising 23 percent of all reported cancers in women. The incidence rate in South Africa is approximately 35/100 000 women years, one of the highest incidence rates in the world. In the last two decades, the aetiological role of the human papilloma virus (HPV) infection in the development of pre-invasive and invasive lesions of the cervix, vagina and the ano-genital region has been conclusively established. The understanding of theoncogenesis of cervical cancer has improved to such an extent that new technologies to detect persistent HPV infection are available and are becoming part of clinical practice. HPV16 is associated with more than 50% of all invasive cervical carcinomas, HPV18 with 16% and HPV31 with 8%. Protection against the most potent carcinogen is a classic example of primary prevention. HPV6 and 11 cause genital warts.