MEXICO CITY — Mexico plans to administer the vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer, to all girls beginning next year, the country's health ministry said Tuesday.
Beginning in 2012, the HPV vaccine will be part of the normal course of shots given to all girls at the age of nine, Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova said.
Cervical cancer kills about 4,200 women in Mexico each year.
The minister said while deaths from cervical cancer had fallen 47 percent in the country over the past two decades, there was still 13.4 cases for every 100,000 women last year.
Mexican health authorities hope that by making the HPV vaccine universal, they can cut the mortality rate from this type of cancer by 50 percent for women over the age of 25.
HPV is sexually transmitted and most of the time the body can clear it on its own. However, in some cases the infection remains and can eventually lead to cervical cancer.
HPV types 16 and 18 account for 70 percent of cervical cancer cases worldwide, which number about 500,000 per year, according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).