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Our May roundup of the latest news from the world of human papillomavirus. Have we missed a story? Get in touch and let us know.

Provider recommendations increase HPV vaccinations

There has been an increase in the number of health providers recommending the HPV vaccine to male patients in America. This has been shown to have a greatly positive effect, as vaccine coverage is also rising, from 8.3% in 2011 to 57.3% in 2016. There were many other factors that contributed to the increase in vaccination, such as location, race and background, but increased recommendations show that education is being spread around a much larger audience, reducing inequalities in information between groups.

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Twitter Lends Insight to HPV-Associated Oral Cancer Knowledge

Researchers at Howard University have been analysing Tweets to gain insight on the level of knowledge known about oral cancer and HPV. This allows them to ascertain what gaps there might be in the general public’s knowledge, which can then be filled. Over 3,000 tweets were collected relating to either HPV, or oral cancer. More than half of the tweets had information about prevention, while fewer tweets were about causes of oral cancer, treatment, diagnosis, symptoms and prognosis. There was also a prominence on the risk of oral cancers in men, and #jabsfortheboys, was the most popular hashtag in the data. This information will allow researchers to build upon the results and continue to improve knowledge about HPV and oral cancers for the general public.

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Knowledge around HPV remains low

A study this month was published in PeerJ, assessing the level of knowledge about HPV and attitudes to HPV vaccination in Sicily, in Southern Italy. At the University Hospital in Palermo, a sample of 220 women were surveyed, questioned about their understanding of the virus and the effects it can have on the body. It was found that 23% of women showed no, or little, knowledge of HPV, and 44.3% of women had no, or little, knowledge of HPV induced lesions. The report shows that similar surveys could be used in the future to assess general knowledge about HPV and attitudes towards vaccination against the virus.

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Instagram blocks vaccine hoax hashtags

Instagram announced this month that it will block hashtags on its site that are being used to spread false information about vaccines. While some hashtags were already banned, such as #vaccinescauseautism, more hashtags will be blocked, ones which are used to spread lies by anti-vaxxers. However, there are many anti-vaccine accounts still live on Instagram, and the site have said that they will not be shutting these sites down. While this will be a difficult topic to police, as new hashtags are made all the time when previous ones are blocked, it is a step in the right direction to prevent the spread of lies and rhetoric.

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Vaccine in development to treat HPV-related oral cancers

Professor Ian Frazer, known for developing the initial HPV vaccine for cervical cancer, has developed another vaccine that is aimed to treat HPV related cancers of the head, neck, throat and tongue. This vaccine has been in the making for 15 years, and while there are similarities, it is different to the original vaccine. While the first vaccine works to prevent HPV, this new vaccine is to be a treatment method. It targets the cells that are already cancerous and containing HPV. Oral cancer rates are rising, and this vaccine could help to change the way they are treated in the future. Trials for the vaccine are currently seeking funding.

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