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The news from April 2019 in the world of HPV. Have we missed a story? Get in touch and let us know.

HPV Rates Continue to be High in MSM

The Rutgers School of Public Health have released a study that found that the rates of HPV remained high in young men who identified as gay or bisexual, meaning that few of them are actually receiving the HPV vaccine. At the same time, there is still a higher proportion of HPV-related cancers in the same group of men, meaning that the vaccine is extremely important for them. Only recently, the FDA in America approved for the HPV vaccine coverage to be expanded to include adults up to age 45. It is clear that this must be more heavily emphasised in men who have sex with men, so they are aware of the risks of HPV and the benefits of the vaccine.

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Cervical Disease Plummets Following HPV Vaccine

It has been revealed that the rates of the cervical disease that lead to cervical cancer have fallen by 89% in Scotland, where HPV vaccine uptake among young girls is very high. This is the first time evidence has shown how great the drop has been, and concerns the proportions of 20-year-old vaccinated women who have cervical disease detected at a screening. The disease is made of abnormal cells and lesions, and are what go on to become cervical cancer. The results also showed that there has been a decrease in the disease in unvaccinated women, showing that herd immunity is working. It shows that in the future, cervical cancer could be eradicated for good in the UK, and possibly other HPV cancers too.

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Contextualising the Uptake of HPV Vaccine in LMICs

It is thought that many low and middle income countries have ‘lagged behind’ the adoption of the HPV vaccine into their immunisation programmes, in relation to other life-saving vaccines. However, in HPVWorld this month, a group of professors collected to argue this concept, with regards to price, the financial markets, timing and hesitancy by global partners. There are many reasons why certain LMICs have been hesitant to have a HPV vaccination programme, and much of it is beyond their control. Among other reasons, the HPV vaccine was much more expensive to buy than other vaccines, and came onto the market just before the global financial crash, which majorly affected demand and supply of the vaccine. It can be seen that, when taking context into account, LMICs haven’t purposefully avoided taking on the HPV vaccine, they have just been unable to do so for multiple reasons. Hopefully, conditions will improve and it will be easier for them to implement the vaccine in their countries.

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Reviewing the Importance of Biobanking to HPV Research

A report in HPVWorld this month documented the importance of biobanking to HPV-related research. Cervical biobanks have great value to research of this kind, as they support efficacy assessments of primary and secondary prevention strategies, and offer the chances to try new methods. They also support ‘proof of concept’ based research. However, biobanks take time to manage. The report looked at two cervical/HPV biobanks, in Scotland and Sweden, and analysed the benefits and challenges to maintaining them. It was found that biobanks struggle with issues that range from the legal to the technical, but there are options to solve them. The natural course of HPV-related cancers can take years, which makes biobanks all the more important. It was found that the best practice for biobanks was through collaborations with other banks around the world, and continued research into their benefits and solutions to their challenges.

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High Street HPV Vaccine Prices Rise to Extortionate Levels

Many high street pharmacies have been found to be charging up to £475 for the recommended doses of the HPV vaccine. This comes after the UK government announced that they will not be introducing a catch up HPV vaccine programme for teenage boys, despite the fact that one was offered to girls up to the age of 18 when the vaccine was first introduced in 2008. This has led to many parents of teenage boys looking to get the vaccine for their sons, only to find that they can’t afford the costs of the vaccine. This prices some families out of getting the vaccine, while their children are no less vulnerable to HPV-related diseases and cancers. It is thought that HPV causes around 2,500 cases of cancer in men each year, and 650 deaths each year. It is hoped that the extreme prices of the vaccine on the High Street will prompt some government intervention.

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Northern Ireland to Introduce Gender Neutral Vaccination

Health officials in Northern Ireland have announced that they will begin vaccinating boys against HPV, bringing them into line with the rest of the United Kingdom, who all announced the change last year. The vaccine will begin to be offered to boys from September 2019, in the hope that it will reduce rates of HPV-related cancers in men as well as women. Given how effective the vaccine has been against cervical cancer, the effects it could have against oral, anal and penile cancer in men could be equally monumental. While it was hoped that Northern Ireland would make the announcement sooner, it is excellent to see them not waste time in introducing the vaccine programme despite this late confirmation, as it will start at the same time as the rest of the UK.

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HPV Rates on the Rise in Unvaccinated Women

The University of Michigan has released a survey that shows how HPV rates have been rising in women under the age of forty who have never received the HPV vaccine. This puts that an even higher risk for HPV-related cancers and diseases. Detecting HPV infection in people before screenings and vaccination for HPV became regular practice is difficult as there is little to no data available, so researchers developed a model that uses HPV infection and past infection data, and a mathematical model that is used to develop an image of HPV prevalence in the past as well as the present. The information is useful as it will indicate which groups should be targeted for more screening and vaccination against HPV.

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Irish NPCpp Promotes HPV Vaccine

The National Parents Council Post Primary has recently changed their stance on the HPV vaccine. Their previous stance was that it was up to the parents to decide on their own whether they wanted to vaccinate their children. Now, they have come out in support of administering the HPV vaccine at school to pupils. They have stated that they have based this decision on the medical evidence proving the effectiveness of the vaccine. This will hopefully encourage parents who are part of the council, or who view them as expert advisors, to have their children vaccinated.

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Text Messages Used to Increase HPV Vaccine Uptake

Findings presented during the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting this year revealed that text messages could be used to increase the number of completed HPV vaccine series in low income, urban, and minority populations. Many young people only get one or two of the recommended 3 doses of the vaccine needed for full coverage. The text messages were used to encourage families to complete the series and get fully protected against the virus. This information can now be used to increase completion of the vaccine series within 12 months, especially within communities where completion is less likely.

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