NOMAN had the pleasure of attending the latest EUROGIN conference in Lisbon this week.
The EUROGIN Congress is one of the leading international meetings of individuals with an interest in HPV and its related cancers. The aim of the event is to offer a scientific forum, encouraging interactions between people from various disciplines and backgrounds, in order to attendees to make connections, build their understanding of HPV, and strategise ways to eliminate HPV-related cancers and diseases through universal vaccination, early detection and ongoing research on the virus. Over four days in Lisbon, we attended a variety of training courses, workshops, forums, scientific sessions and poster presentations.
The last few years have brought immense progress. Thanks to the success of HPV vaccination programmes, we are now discussing the possibility of eliminating cervical cancer, with Australia and Canada in friendly competition to see who can do so first.
As we know, the disease burden of HPV extends beyond just cervical cancer, and girls, with the virus causing 5% of all cancers. Of those, oropharyngeal cancers in men are growing at a rate of 3% a year, and in the USA these rates have overtaken those of cervical cancer.
The case for gender-neutral HPV vaccination is, therefore, becoming more and more overwhelming: men remain susceptible to HPV infection throughout their life, and there are no recommended routine screening options for HPV-related cancers available to them. In addition, to those so is cost-effective when placed against the significant costs of treating HPV-related diseases.
Vaccines have provided astonishing benefits to humankind. We have the tools to eliminate HPV-related diseases through gender neutral vaccination, and the nonavalent vaccines provide great efficacy against the disease causing strains of HPV. At the time of writing, 26 countries vaccinate both sexes against HPV and will be joined at the very least by Denmark, United Kingdom, and Portugal in 2019. It is vital that more countries follow them in 2019.
Equally, there remains to work to communicate effectively around the importance of protecting boys against HPV-related diseases. There is no one size fits all method here, and there are interesting projects in progress around how we tailor communications across boys/girls and at-risk populations.
We look forward to these outcomes being applied in a practical setting as part of countries’ health interventions, in particular, the further adoption of gender-neutral HPV vaccination practice worldwide.