Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is a common virus that affects both males and females. HPV is usually spread by skin-to-skin contact, including during sexual intercourse. There are over 100 genotypes of HPV which affect different parts of the body and some types are more harmful than others. Most HPV infections resolve spontaneously in approximately 12 to 24 months. However a small proportion of persistent HPV infections may progress to penile, anal, cervical, vulval and vaginal cancers. HPV can also cause genitals warts.
General information on HPV, including its prevention, testing and treatment, can be found on Health’s STI website.
The HPV vaccine is available in schools for females and males aged 12 to 13 years through the National HPV Vaccination Program. It is listed on the National Immunisation Program schedule. HPV vaccination coverage is available on the National HPV Vaccination Program Register.
HPV surveillance is conducted as a component of the National HPV Vaccination Program and aims to monitor the effectiveness of the HPV vaccination on circulating HPV genotypes in the Australian population. HPV is not a nationally notifiable disease in Australia and therefore the surveillance of HPV infection operates outside of the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System.
The Surveillance Plan for HPV- an integrated approach to monitoring the impact of the HPV vaccine in Australia was endorsed by Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) in 2013.
The Australian Government has funded a number of HPV surveillance projects, including the current National HPV Surveillance Program. The Program is a national genotype-specific surveillance system that includes demographic and behavioural data relevant to HPV infection.
From May 2017, the new cervical screening test through the National Cervical Screening Program will detect the persistent HPV infection that causes the abnormal cell changes, prior to the development of cancer.
Further information is available on the National Cervical Screening Program and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare websites.
The following committees provide policy input and specialist advice to the Australian Government and include expert and state and territory representation:
- Ministerial Advisory Committee on Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections (MACBBVS)
- Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infection Subcommittee of the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee (BBVSS)
- National Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infection Surveillance Subcommittee of Communicable Diseases Network of Australia (NBBVSTI Surveillance Subcommittee)
- HPV Surveillance working group of Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) – currently on hold.
- Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI)
- National Immunisation Committee (NIC)
Policy information on blood borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections, including the National Strategies and governance arrangements for policy formulation, is available on the Blood Borne Viruses and Sexually Transmissible Infections web page.