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The Wistar Institute and Nation’s Cancer Centers Jointly Endorse Updated HPV Vaccine Recommendations

Statement supports fewer vaccinations, urges action to increase national vaccination rates

PHILADELPHIA—(Jan. 11, 2017)—Recognizing a critical need to improve national vaccination rates for the human papillomavirus (HPV), The Wistar Institute, an international biomedical research leader in cancer, immunology and infectious diseases, is once again among the 69 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer centers uniting in support of recently revised recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world and nearly 80 percent of all sexually active people will become infected in their lifetime. Yet, we know that HPV vaccination can prevent head and neck cancer, cervical cancer, and many other intractable, HPV-related cancers,” said Dario Altieri, M.D., president and CEO of The Wistar Institute, director of The Wistar Institute Cancer Center, and the Robert and Penny Distinguished Professor. “HPV is a silent infection, so often times there are no symptoms. It is why this disease is so frightening and why we must be staunch advocates for the health of all children and young adults in the United States and ensure they receive the HPV vaccine.”

According to the CDC, incidence rates of HPV-associated cancers have continued to rise, with approximately 39,000 new HPV-associated cancers now diagnosed each year in the United States. Although HPV vaccines can prevent the majority of cervical, anal, oropharyngeal (middle throat) and other genital cancers, vaccination rates remain low across the nation, with just 41.9 percent of girls and 28.1 percent of boys completing the recommended vaccine series.

The HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006 and passed extensive safety testing before being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Since its introduction, more than 80 million doses of the HPV vaccine have been distributed nationally and more than 200 million doses have been distributed globally. The new CDC guidelines recommend that children aged 11 to 12 should receive two doses of the HPV vaccine at least six months apart. Adolescents and young adults older than 15 should continue to complete the three-dose series.

Research shows there are a number of barriers to overcome in order to improve vaccination rates, including a lack of strong recommendations from physicians and parents not understanding that this vaccine protects against several types of cancer. In an effort to overcome these barriers, NCI-designated cancer centers have organized a continuing series of national summits to share new research, discuss best practices, and identify collective action toward improving vaccination rates.

The original joint statement, published in January 2016, was the major recommendation from a summit hosted at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in November 2015, which brought together experts from the NCI, CDC, American Cancer Society and more than half of the NCI-designated cancer centers. The updated statement is the result of discussions from the most recent summit, hosted this summer by The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center. Nearly 150 experts from across the country gathered in Columbus to present research updates and plan future collaborative actions across NCI-designated cancer centers.

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