To Prevent Cervical Cancer, Stop HPV
Cervical Cancer Prevention week in the UK (20-27 January) has meant busy days for Prof. Margaret Stanley, President of the International Papillomavirus Society (IPVS). IPVS is the leading global authority on the human papillomavirus (HPV). To prevent cervical cancer, we must stop HPV.
On Wednesday, January 22nd, Prof. Stanley took to the podium in the House of Lords to address the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF), a network of public policymakers from across Europe committed to advancing public health protection in this area.
How well is Europe doing in terms of preventing cervical cancer? Results are mixed. The EPF is publishing a Cervical Cancer Prevention Policies Atlas, which documents policy relating to cervical cancer prevention and control in each country. It makes for interesting study, as each country faces its own challenges.
Prof. Stanley’s main point: Both vaccination AND screening programs must be robust if we are to wipe out HPV.
In countries where HPV vaccination programs are going well in recent years, there can still be a significant risk of cervical cancer for women who came of age before vaccines were readily available if for some reason these women are not getting screened. Prof. Stanley cited the UK as a country where vaccination is going better than screening. Solutions are needed to get the women from the ‘pre-vaccination’ era (now around 25-30 years of age) in for screening.
The opposite situation is arguably worse. Screening alone doesn’t stop HPV, even if the program is excellent. HPV screening, which is now part of the NHS cervical screening program in the UK, is vital to reduce risk by identifying the presence of HPV and detecting the changes in the cervix that can lead to cancer. This facilitates early treatment. If cervical cancer is found, HPV has been there first. Its vaccination, of both girls and boys, that is key to HPV prevention.
The causal relationship between HPV and cervical cancer is becoming clearer to everyone. It’s encouraging to see that the hard work of the many IPVS members to publish policy statements in this area and use our global authority on HPV to influence the public landscape in this area is bearing fruit. Professor Stanley was honored to use this occasion to inspire the European parliamentarians to take action to stop HPV.
International HPV Awareness Day (IHAD) on March 4th is just weeks away. It is important that people around the world learn the facts about HPV and how it affects them. IPVS and our partners are conducting the 3rd annual HPV Awareness Campaign Viral Before the Internet. Find out more on our website askabouthpv.org.
A few weeks thereafter, the International Papillomavirus Conference (IPVC 2020) will be held in Barcelona from 23-27 March. Under the theme “Science and education for action against HPV,” the conference will cover papillomavirus (PV)-related topics from basic science to global health impact. Special attention will be directed toward HPV prevention and control in populations that are most vulnerable to HPV disease worldwide. Register on-line or click here to find out more about the program. #cervicalcancerpreventionweek #cervicalcancer #askabouthpv #IPVC2020 #hpvawareness