The latest news roundup from the world of human papillomavirus (HPV) in October 2019. Missed a story? Let us know.
The rate of head and neck cancers has risen in the USA
Since 1970, the rate of head and neck cancer in the USA has risen, a new study has shown. The results of the study have been closely linked to HPV, with the majority of cases being HPV-positive cancers. White males and people aged between 60 and 64 were those most affected by HPV-positive cancer. The results of the study has given a clear idea of the rate of HPV caused head and neck cancers in the USA and has highlighted the importance of the HPV vaccine in preventing these cancers. It is necessary now to tackle the low uptake of the vaccine in the USA through education and funding into health programs.
HPV immunization program in British Columbia cuts rates of pre-cancer in women
British Columbia has been credited with having a successful HPV vaccination program, with some fantastic results. Those who have been vaccinated show a 57% lower rate in pre-cancerous cells, when compared to those who have not received the vaccine. The study looked at over 35,000 women, and the participants were from the first group of women to be vaccinated in BC, 12 years ago. These fantastic results have further highlighted the importance of the HPV vaccine as a cancer prevention method. Currently, Canada offers the vaccine to children between fourth and seventh grade. The program has been open to girls since 2008, and the program has been extended to boys since 2016. Studies have shown that just over 2/3 of people are getting the vaccine, and it is hoped that this number will increase following encouraging positive results like these.
HPV Action sets out its case for a catch-up vaccination programme for boys
HPV Action is advocating for a catch-up HPV vaccination programme in the UK to protect boys who have missed out on the newly announced extension of the nationwide gender neutral HPV vaccine. While it is brilliant news that the vaccine is now offered to both sexes, there is concern that a significant number of older boys will now be left at risk of HPV-related diseases. The prioritisation of the routine vaccine was necessary due to logistics and vaccine supply, but HPV Action believes that, by 2020, the programme will be well established and supply will no longer be a problem. It has been argued that, for several reasons (including CDC recommendations and health inequality concerns), cost-effectiveness should not be the sole decider in this case. Not offering a catch-up continues to put the lives of thousands at risk, and we must continue to advocate for worldwide cancer prevention.
Cancer Prevention Vaccine Required for Hawaiian Middle School Enrollment
On October 6th, the Hawaii State Department of Health has set out new requirements for required vaccinations for middle school enrolment. Amongst other immunisations, Hawaii has made the HPV vaccine compulsory for seventh grade children. This decision will affect over 13,200 children, of all genders. Students will be required to provide documentation proving they have acquired the vaccine (or that they are exempt for medical or religious reasons). This new programme lines up with current CDC immunisation recommendations and should be a great measure for cancer prevention for Hawaii. As well as making the vaccine compulsory, Hawaii has also funded an information programme to educate parents and children about the vaccine, emphasising that in can prevent a number of cancers including cervical, anal, and penile.
Kenya has introduced the HPV vaccine for girls
Kenya has introduced a new program for vaccinating girls against HPV to tackle the incredibly high rate of cervical cancer among women. The vaccine is to be free for all 10-year-old girls, and will be a two-dose program. It is hoped that there will be widespread uptake of the vaccine, with the goal of reducing cervical cancer (and other HPV-related cancers) by up to 80%. Due to the current prevalence of cervical cancer in Kenya combined with budgeting and logistics considerations, the vaccine is not currently being offered to boys. It is wonderful news that Kenya is introducing the HPV vaccine to their health program, and it is hoped that in the future Kenya and all other countries worldwide will be able to offer the vaccine to all young people, regardless of gender and prevent 5% of cancers.