Author(s): Sanders GD, Taira AV
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, usually a sexually transmitted disease, is a risk factor for cervical cancer. Given the substantial disease and death associated with HPV and cervical cancer, development of a prophylactic HPV vaccine is a public health priority. We evaluated the cost-effectiveness of vaccinating adolescent girls for high-risk HPV infections relative to current practice. A vaccine with a 75% probability of immunity against high-risk HPV infection resulted in a life-expectancy gain of 2.8 days or 4.0 quality-adjusted life days at a cost of $246 relative to current practice (incremental cost effectiveness of $22,755/quality-adjusted life year [QALY]). If all 12-year-old girls currently living in the United States were vaccinated, >1,300 deaths from cervical cancer would be averted during their lifetimes. Vaccination of girls against high-risk HPV is relatively cost effective even when vaccine efficacy is low. If the vaccine efficacy rate is 35%, the cost effectiveness increases to $52,398/QALY. Although gains in life expectancy may be modest at the individual level, population benefits are substantial.