The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine may increase the prevalence and distribution of some HPV virus strains not targeted by the vaccine — including some strains that are linked to cancer — resulting in unknown and potentially concerning consequences, according to a study published last week in Cell Host & Microbe.

The study was not designed to show that the HPV vaccine prevents cancer or that HPV or cervical cancer screenings need to change, though the authors did include a brief, speculative mention of the potential implications of their findings for future screening.

Yet STATNews, reporting on the study, said the findings showed that the HPV vaccine is so effective at preventing cancers — particularly when both boys and girls are vaccinated — that cancer-screening protocols may need to change.

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