The latest news roundup from the world of human papillomavirus (HPV) in November 2019. Missed a story? Let us know.
Rwanda leads fight against cervical cancer in Africa
A review of Rwanda’s cervical cancer prevention programme has shown that the country is paving the way for eradicating the disease in Africa. Cervical cancer is the second most common, and deadliest, cancer for women in Africa. Almost all cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV. In 2011, Rwanda launched its campaign to educate people about HPV to prevent it spreading. The HPV vaccine was offered to all girls, and reached nine out of ten in its first year. Now, eight years later, the vaccine is part of Rwanda’s routine immunisation programme. Following the success of Rwanda’s campaign, other African countries like Kenya are developing their own HPV vaccination programme. We hope that these campaigns will be successful, and that one day this vaccine will be available to every child, regardless of their gender or where they are born.
Study Addresses HPV Vaccination in Adolescent Girls and Boys
A recently published study in the Cochrane Systematic Review has given us more information on the benefits of different scheduling and dosage of the HPV vaccine. Currently, the WHO recommends a two-dose schedule for the vaccine for those between 9-14 years, and three doses for those over the age of 15. There are three vaccines in use: a bivalent vaccine targeted at two high-risk HPV types, quadrivalent targeted at four, and nonavalent targeted at nine types. The study tested 31,940 people over 20 trials and all continents. HPV antibodies were found in the vaccine recipients’ immune systems. In girls, it was found that the antibody response after two- and three-dose schedules were similar, and that responses were better when the interval between the doses was longer. Other results included: the quadrivalent vaccine reduced genital lesions and warts in men; the nonavalent and quadrivalent vaccines provided similar protection against pre-cancerous lesions in women. For people living with HIV, it was found that the bivalent or quadrivalent vaccine gave an HPV antibody response that could be maintained for up to two years. The results of all these studies are promising, and put policy makers in good positions for designing their vaccine programmes with cost as well as efficacy in mind.
Anal cancer rates and mortality have risen dramatically among Americans
Over the last 15 years, anal cancer diagnoses and deaths related to HPV have risen at an alarming rate. A study by researchers at UTHealth analysed data from US cancer registries and found almost 70,000 cases of anal cancer alongside over 12,000 deaths. They have also found that the rate of anal cancer diagnosis is increasing by 3% each year, making it one of the most rapidly risings cancers. Almost 90% of anal cancers are caused by HPV, which is preventable through vaccination. Despite this, 50% of Americans are not taking up the vaccine, and 75% do not know that HPV causes anal cancer. Now it is important to increase awareness about anal cancer, its links to HPV, and the availability of the HPV vaccine.
AAP chapters continue work on improving HPV vaccination rates
HPV uptake rates (around 50% of teens) are still lagging behind other vaccine rates in the USA, so health chapters around the country have increased their efforts to promote the vaccine. To do so, many chapters are using strategies such as motivational interviews and the spread of AAP and CDC resources to educate adolescents and parents about the vaccine, as well as encouraging health care professionals to increase immunisation rates. Chapters in Louisiana and Ohio have opted for an effective communication campaign targeting paediatricians and teens respectively, which have had success so far. North Carolina and Maryland are following a resource sharing strategy using email, toolkits, and webinars, looking to increase vaccination rates. Meanwhile, Georgia and Virginia have put in place projects for quality improvements cycles, with fantastic results so far. The results from these projects will be shared across states and will hopefully encourage all chapters to focus work on improving vaccine rates nationally.
The Oral Health Foundation launches national mouth cancer campaign
The Oral Health Foundation was joined by over 130 people at the Houses of Parliament, as it announced November as this year’s Mouth Cancer Action Month. Several speakers highlighted the need for better education regarding mouth cancer and its causes and symptoms. There have been recent improvements in the prevention of mouth cancer, including the HPV vaccine and falling rates of smoking. However, in the last 20 years, the number of mouth cancer in the UK has nearly tripled, making it one of the few cancers to be increasing in number. The charity wants to target people with this message: “if in doubt, get it checked out”, encouraging the population to attend regular dentist visits, engage with public awareness programs, and perform self-examinations. The Oral Health Foundation’s Chief Executive Dr Nigel Carter OBE wants people to be more “mouthaware”, to be able to identify the signs of mouth cancer, know its risks, and what to do if you notice anything different or unusual. NOMAN is proud to support the Oral Health Foundation in their campaign.