A simple urine test can provide important answers
Published 03 February 2011
The first 17-year-old girls are now receiving an invitation to participate in a pilot study in advance of a planned nationwide research on the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV). Urine samples will be collected and tested for HPV. The purpose is to get more detailed knowledge about the prevalence of HPV and the types of the virus which are present in the population.
The project is part of a comprehensive compliance program, HPVnorvaks, which is implemented in conjunction with the introduction of HPV vaccine to young girls.
There are many different types of HPV. Most are harmless, but some can cause cancer, particularly cervical cancer. Human papillomavirus is very common in the population. Most people get rid of the virus by itself, but in some cases the virus causes persistent infection and can cause cell changes and cervical cancer. In order to prevent cervical cell changes and cervical cancer the HPV vaccine was added to the children’s vaccination program in 2009. The vaccine protects against the most common cancer-causing HPV and is offered to all girls in 7 class.
“- What we now want to gain knowledge about is the prevalence of HPV in different age groups in the population. This will give us an important basis for comparison in the future when we will do similar studies to document the efficacy of HPV vaccine,” says consultant and project manager Lill Trøgstad at the NIPH.
– We will monitor whether the introduction of HPV vaccine changes the incidence of different HPV types in the population. Will the types the vaccine protects against disappear? Can other types take over the space of these? These are issues we want to answer as the proportion of vaccinated women is greater.“- In this pilot study it is young women of 17 years who are invited. All one needs do is submit a consent form and a urine sample. No long questionnaires to be filled this time, ” said Trøgstad.
In the survey samples will be tested for 40 different types of the virus.
“- Since HPV is so common and most people get rid of their HPV infection by itself, will the findings of HPV in urine have no significance for the individual participant. The test results are primarily useful to look at incidence in the population and whether there will be changes in incidence over time. By participating you will help provide valuable knowledge about the prevalence of HPV among young women. Such knowledge is important for improving women’s health, ” said Trøgstad.
The project is part of a comprehensive compliance program, HPVnorvaks.
Norway is in the fortunate situation that we have a unique opportunity to follow up and study the impact of HPV vaccination in young girls. Data from this survey, combined with data from, among other things, immunization registry SYSVAK and Cancer Registry, give us insight into this. This follow-up will continue for many years and involve several different research projects. Public Health, Cancer Registry and the HPV reference laboratory at the Akershus University Hospital is responsible for monitoring program and research projects that are included.
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