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A new study from Australia suggests that nationwide vaccination programs against HPV reduce the numbers of women with cervical cancer, reports the Guardian's Sarah Boseley. The study, published in the Lancet, shows that the number of high-grade cervical abnormalities in women in Australia — one of the first countries to introduce HPV vaccination — has dropped. The country introduced nationwide HPV vaccination for girls aged 12 to 26 in 2007. In analyzing the results of their screening program, the researchers found that the proportion of girls aged 17 and younger with high-grade abnormalities fell by almost half, from 0.8 percent to 0.42 percent, Boseley says. The authors of the study say this reinforces the need to target pre-adolescent girls for the vaccine. The UK introduced its own cervical cancer vaccination program in 2008, offering it to 12- and 13-year old girls in school, with catch-up programs for girls up to 18 years of age, Boseley says.

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