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

Mental Health and Cancer Study Published

A study has been published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery about the prevalence of mental health disorders following head and neck cancer diagnosis, showing that the chances of diagnosis are significantly higher with the addition of this variable. The study found that patients with head and neck cancer saw an increased chance of mental health disorders by 9%. Histories of tobacco and alcohol usage also contributed to increased risk of poor mental health, and there may be additional socioeconomic factors that play a part in diagnosis, but more individualised study needs to be done to confirm this.

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Rise in Penile Cancer Cases

Penile cancer is a growing concern for younger men. It was once a rare disease that affected older men primarily, but more and more men in their 30s and 40s are getting diagnosed with the cancer. Worryingly, around half of the new cases are associated with HPV, which proves the importance of men receiving the HPV vaccine. Luckily, early detection of penile cancer can mean it can be treated effectively, and there is a high survival rate. However, there is a lot of stigma about the cancer, and many men feel uncomfortable going to the doctors about their penis. Work needs to be done to reduce stigma and encourage men to get the HPV vaccine when they can, so that they need never face the danger of penile cancer at all.

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HPV Vaccine Uptake in Girls from BAME backgrounds

The Uk has one of the most successful HPV vaccination programmes in the whole world, however, there is a disparity between the number of while girls getting the vaccine and the number of girls from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. In interviews with young girls of colour, the BBC found that they didn’t feel included in the campaigns for the HPV vaccine, as they are mostly led by white women. This is especially important as the vaccine is due to be rolled out to boys in September 2019, and it is important that young people from all backgrounds have the same access to the vaccine. Our UK Director, David Winterflood, spoke on BBC News about this issue and the importance of the HPV vaccine in preventing cancer, saying “we have the opportunity to prevent 5% of cancers by vaccinating both boys and girls, we need to move away from the sexually charged issue, and be thinking about prevention.”

Read more here, and see our interview with BBC News here

Study Published on the Importance of HPV Vaccine for MSM

A study has been published in PLoS Med about the importance and effectiveness of vaccinating men who have sex with men (MSM) against HPV in the Netherlands. MSM are at a higher risk of getting anal cancer than men who have sex with women (MSW), due to a greater chance of being infected with HPV. The percentage of MSM diagnosed with anal cancer every year is similar to the percentage of women diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the country. Using a range of mathematical models to measure the effectiveness of targeted vaccination, the study found that by vaccinating MSM, anal cancer prevention could be accelerated. In order to make greater strides in the reduction of anal cancer, the study recommends the introduction of gender neutral HPV vaccination for adolescents at the same time.

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Understanding of HPV Dangerously Low in Belgium

Around 1,000 Belgians took part in a recent survey about HPV and the cancers it causes, and it shows that very few of them are aware of the potential damage of the virus. Around 53% of Belgians revealed that they believed HPV infection was rare, when in fact around 80% of sexually active men and women will have HPV in their lifetime, though it will not always be a malignant strain. Additionally, only 44% knew that the HPV vaccine prevented cancer, and among this 44%, 86% only knew it to protect against cervical cancer, not realising that it can also prevent oral, anal, vaginal, vulval and penile cancers. This is especially important as the HPV vaccine is available to boys and girls in Belgium, and in order to ensure a high uptake amongst all children, the effects of the virus on anyone must be known.

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Examining How to Really Curb Anti-Vaccine Mis-Information

Anti-vaccine groups often collect and spread mis-information on social media sites. Facebook, Youtube and Pinterest have all recently announced that they will take measures to prevent this kind of mis-information on their platforms. However, the New York Times say that the headlines made about these announcements then draw attention away from the debates being held in states across America on the rights/laws concerning vaccination. Vaccine hesitancy has existed since vaccines were introduced, and although social media allows for anti-vaxxers to disseminate their agenda, limiting their power online is not the only way to increase vaccine rates. To really combat vaccine hesitancy, legislation around vaccines has to be stricter, despite the controversy that it might create.

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HPV Vaccine Campaigner Laura Brennan Dies

It was revealed today that Laura Brennan passed away due to her cervical cancer. Laura was a public advocate for the HPV vaccine and headed many campaigns to increase vaccination rates following her diagnosis in September 2017. She knew her cancer was terminal, and so wanted parents to see the damage not getting the HPV vaccine could do before they decided against giving it to their children. When Laura began campaigning, HPV vaccine rates in Ireland were extremely low following campaigns by anti-vaccine groups. Thanks to her, and many others’, hard work, rates are back up to 70%, a percentage increase of 20% from just a couple of years ago, and as many as 12 women’s lives every year will be saved from cervical cancer, as well as many others besides who will survive other cancers caused by HPV.

Read more about Laura’s work here

History of HPV Disease in Men Studied

HPV infection can cause many different diseases in men, but the natural history of the virus in men is fairly unknown. The study in HPV world was made in order to fill this gap in general information. Men aged between 128-70, from 3 different countries, consented to be tested every 6 months for HPV for 7 years, at all sites of potential infection. It was found through the study that HPV natural history differs across anatomic sites, with 50.4% prevalence in the genitals, 12% in the anus and 4% in the oral cavity. These statistics did differ depending on sexuality. These findings show that HPV infection occurs in multiple different areas of the body in men, and prove the importance of gender-neutral HPV vaccination in all vaccination programmes.

Read more here


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