In this week's PLoS Medicine, Johannes Bogaards of VU University, the Netherlands and colleagues use mathematical models to investigate whether vaccinating females only, males only, or both sexes is the best way to achieve the most effective reduction in the population prevalence of sexually-transmitted infections. Specifically for human papillomavirus (HPV), the authors found that single-sex vaccination was the most effective strategy for prevention of disease and that it was preferable to vaccinate the sex with the highest prevaccine prevalence of HPV infection which for HPV is females.
The authors say: "Our results provide a justification, under most circumstances, for the intuitively plausible strategy of targeting intervention at the subgroups that harbor most infections and that act as a reservoir for transmission...We show that, once routine vaccination of one sex is in place, increasing the coverage in that sex is much more effective in bolstering herd immunity than switching to a policy that includes both sexes."
Funding: This research was supported by the Health Research and Development Council of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (ZonMw grant 50-50110-96-474). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Competing Interests: CJLMM and JB have received unrestricted research grants from GSK. JB also acted as research consultant for Sanofi Pasteur MSD. MK acted as a research consultant for Sanofi Pasteur MSD and for GSK. The other authors have declared no competing interests.
Citation: Bogaards JA, Kretzschmar M, Xiridou M, Meijer CJLM, Berkhof J, et al. (2011) Sex-Specific Immunization for Sexually Transmitted Infections Such as Human Papillomavirus: Insights from Mathematical Models. PLoS Med 8(12): e1001147. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001147
Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
VU University Medical Centre
Amsterdam, PO Box 7057 1007MB