Introducing a new feature on the NOMAN website: a monthly roundup of news, announcements and scientific discoveries from the world of Human Papillomavirus (HPV). If you have any comments we’d love to hear from you!
UK TO START VACCINATING BOYS AGAINST HPV
The UK government has announced that, following the JCVI minutes released previously, they will begin to vaccinate boys as well as girls against HPV, to protect them against anal, penile and oropharyngeal cancer. This makes the UK the 22nd country in the world to introduce gender neutral vaccination, and becoming it a global leader in the fight against HPV. Public Health Minister Steve Brine said “Any vaccination programme must be firmly grounded in evidence to ensure that we can get the best outcomes for patients, but as a father to a son, I understand the relief that this will bring to parents.” It is expected that the new programme will protect 400,000 boys a year from HPV, as well as improving herd immunity for unvaccinated people. We at NOMAN are delighted that after 5 years campaigning on this core issue, the UK government has finally come to this decision!
HPV VACCINE USED TO CURE PATIENT’S SKIN CANCER
It is not well known that being infected with HPV can lead to an increased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancers. However, studies in Sweden found that people with squamous cell carcinoma or basal cell carcinoma, both types of skin cancers, were more likely to have previous HPV infections. Vaccines have been used for treatment as well as a preventive tool to combat hpv-related disease. A researcher at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami, USA, used the HPV vaccine on an elderly female patient who came to her with squamous cell tumours all over her right leg. Dr. Anna Nichols injected the vaccine, first into her patient’s arm, and then directly into the tumours on the leg. The result was just as hoped – the cancerous cells were killed off. The patient survived and is looking forward to celebrating her 100th birthday in the autumn.
INVENTOR OF HPV VACCINE SUPPORTS GENDER NEUTRAL VACCINATION
The inventor of the HPV cancer vaccine has come out in support of extending vaccination programmes to include boys as well as girls. Professor Ian Frazer, an Australian immunologist, invented the vaccine with his partner Professor Jian Zhou in the 1990s. Professor Frazer was speaking in particular reference to the Irish programme, as he was in Dublin to receive admittance into the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland as an Honorary Fellow.
GENDER NEUTRAL VACCINATION PROGRAMMES FOUND TO BE COST EFFECTIVE
A study in Sweden found this month that gender neutral HPV vaccinations were cost effective. The study, accounting for herd immunity and sexual behaviour, came to the conclusion that even with an already high uptake of vaccinations amongst girls – 80% – the introduction of gender neutral vaccination would be good value for money in Sweden while the procurement price of the vaccine remained at the current (2017) level.
IRISH HEALTH AUTHORITY BEGINS NATIONAL CONSULTATION ON GENDER NEUTRAL VACCINATION PROGRAMME
In Ireland, the Health Information and Quality Authority has begun a natural public consultation on offering the HPV vaccine to boys, following a request by the Irish Department of Health. This is a big step towards Ireland becoming the next country to vaccinate all children against HPV. Vaccinating both boys and girls would have considerable health benefits and reduce HPV-related disease in Ireland. Dr Máirín Ryan, the HIQA’s Director of Health Technology Assessment Deputy Chief Executive, commented “On average, 539 cases of cancer associated with HPV infection are diagnosed every year in Ireland, including cervical, anal, penile and oropharyngeal cancers […] extending the current girls-only HPV immunisation programme to include boys would improve patient-related outcomes and reduce mortality from HPV-related cancers”
INVESTIGATING THE EXTREMELY LOW HPV VACCINATION RATES FOR GIRLS IN JAPAN
HPV World released an article this month on placing responsibility for the poor uptake of the HPV vaccine in girls in Japan. The article starts by mentioning how high the demand for the vaccine was in 2011, over 70%, when it was partially funded by the national government. However, once it became part of the National Immunisation Programme (NIP), there began a strong backlash against the vaccine, with rates falling to under 1%. Dr Sharon Hanley, an assistant professor at the Department of Women’s Health Medicine at Hokkaido University in Japan, details the many reasons why the vaccine continues to be suspended from the NIP, after four years. She cites poor risk management from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW), poor communication between the MHLW and the general public, and an extremely organised anti-vax movement as the main obstacles to better rates of vaccination.
Read her article here
July has been a massive month for NOMAN. After 5 years campaigning we have achieved one of our top aims; to ensure gender neutral vaccination in the UK. However, this isn’t the end – we will not stop until every country in the world is vaccinating children of all genders against HPV.