HPV IMPACT | The Study
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The Study

What is the IMPACT Study?

IMPACT is a large multi-centre program funded by Commonwealth Government Department of Health. IMPACT recruited participants over three years, recruiting more than 3,000 volunteers. We are now in the data analysis stage of IMPACT.

The study involved the collection of samples for HPV testing from healthy 18 to 35 year old volunteers.

Participants for the study were recruited from a number of services across Australia, including sexual health clinics, general practice clinics, community-led Aboriginal Medical Services and family planning clinics.

What is the study measuring?

This study will measure what types of human papillomavirus (HPV, sometimes known as the ‘wart virus’, or the virus that can cause cancer) are present in Australian men and women, now that the HPV vaccine has been introduced. We find this out by testing self-collected samples from women and men around Australia.

HPV is a very common sexually transmitted virus that infects both men and women. There are many different types of HPV, and most people have been exposed to at least one type at some point after becoming sexually active. The body’s immune system usually gets rid of HPV without you even knowing that you have been exposed, and without causing any harm at all. In a small percentage of cases however, infection with some types of HPV can be ongoing and cause damage to cells. This damage over many years can eventually lead to cancer. The cancers caused by some types of HPV include cancer of the cervix (in women), the penis (in men), as well as in the anus and certain types of throat cancer in both women and men.

In 2007, the Australian Government introduced an HPV Vaccination program for girls and women to protect against the HPV types that cause the majority of these cancers. A program for boys was introduced in 2013.

Because HPV related cancers can take many years to develop, to check how well the vaccine is working NOW, is to look for the virus types that the vaccine protects against in young healthy men and women. If the virus types that the vaccine protects against are becoming less common, then the vaccine is working. We also want to know that rarer types of HPV, ones the vaccine doesn’t cover, are not becoming more common. This is very unlikely, but it’s important that we monitor HPV types in the population to make sure it’s not happening.

Who are the IMPACT study participants?

We recruited men or women who were:

  • between the ages of 18 and 35 years old
  • had ever had sex
  • visiting participating clinics around Australia; and
  • living in Australia (citizen or permanent resident)

What does the study involve?

Men and women visiting the clinics involved in the study were approached to participate.

Participation involved:

  • Providing consent for two things – consent to participate in the study, and consent to allow the study group to access their details on the National HPV Vaccination Program Register.
  • Filling out a short, confidential questionnaire
  • Self-collecting a genital sample

The sample was then sent to the research team, where it was tested for HPV.