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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
GLOBAL: Fund Backs Cervical Cancer Vaccine in Poor Nations
Ben Hirschler
November 18, 2011
Reuters (11.17.11) - Friday, November 18, 2011

Though it is still negotiating terms with manufacturers, GAVI announced it will finance human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in developing countries.

Up to 2 million girls in nine nations could be protected from cervical cancer by 2015 under the program. Nina Schwalbe, managing director for policy and performance at the international vaccine and immunization group, said discussions are ongoing with Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Plc., makers of the two HPV vaccines now available.

The greatest need for HPV vaccination is in developing nations, which experience nearly 90 percent of the world's 275,000 cervical cancer deaths each year. "The introduction of an HPV vaccine is a major public breakthrough, but to date this vaccine has only been available for women who live in developed countries," Schwalbe said from Dhaka, where the GAVI board met and approved the initiative.

Rwanda and Vietnam are likely to be among the first countries taking part in the effort, since both have conducted pilot vaccination programs.

Schwalbe said Merck announced earlier this year it would sell GAVI its Gardasil HPV vaccine for $5 per dose, totaling $15 for the three-shot series. She called this "a good starting offer." UK-based GSK has not made a public price offer for its vaccine, Cervarix.

GAVI, formerly the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, was founded a decade ago with support from governments and Bill Gates of Microsoft Corp. The decision to sponsor HPV vaccination in school-age girls marks a turning point for the group, which until now has focused on infant immunizations.