Centers for Disease and Control Prevention and WHO work together to prevent Human Papillomavirus Infection
The Human Papillomavirus is the most common cause of cervical cancer. There are more than 100 types of HPV, and at least 13 of them are high risk. These viruses can transmit through direct sexual contact, through skin, and mucus membranes of infected people. The high risk ones are those that can cause various types of cancer, such as cervical cancer, anal cancer, oropharyngeal cancers, vaginal cancer, vulvar cancer, and penile cancer.
This virus can infect anyone that had had skin to skin sexual contact, even vaginal, anal, or oral sex. Risk factor that facilitate the persistence of HPV and its evolution to cervical cancer are starting a sexual life at an early age, frequent changes in partner, smoke or chew tobacco, using oral contraceptives for a long period, and a immunosuppressed system.
It is estimated that in 2012 there were 530 thousand new cases of cervical cancer, making it the fourth most frequent cancer in women, representing a 7.5% of female mortality by cancer. Many of these deaths have been registered in developed countries; and because of this, various early detection programs of this disease have unfolded.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that three vaccines against HPV have been developed. The WHO now advice two doses of vaccination for girls of 9 to 14 years old in all countries; however, vaccines against HPV have not been introduced in 63% of the countries of the world.
Since 2015, CDC’s have given support to the WHO and other institutions to develop and evaluate the politics and guidelines on vaccines against HPV. Proposed global efforts to prevent cervical cancer include technical assistance to introduce vaccination programs against HPV and the evaluation of vaccine laboratories; training for epidemiologists and improvement of cancer records; to contribute to the Global Health Security Agenda, consisting of taking measures to improve immunization, monitoring, and the development of work force.
Most cases and death by cancer come from low and medium income countries where work force and resources to prevent and control this disease are limited. To contribute to this problem, CDC’s have developed research strategies on cancer and will provide a cancer epidemiology training applied to detection, registration, and integral control of cancer.
It is necessary to remember, vaccines do not work to treat infections by HPV nor any associated diseases like cancer, but to prevent them. Below are some recommendations the WHO provide:
- Vaccine girls from 9 to 14 years old before they start their sexual life.
- Provide safe sex education.
- Promote the use of condoms.
- Warn against the use of tobacco to diminish the risk of oropharyngeal cancer.
- Perform early detection tests in sexually active women starting on 30 years old.
Reviewers: Brenda Giselle Álvarez Rodríguez (Public Health Research Unit), and Cassandra Saldaña Pineda (Knowledge Management Unit).
- National Cancer Institute
- Senkomago V, Duran D, Loharikar A, Hyde TB, Markowitz LE, Unger ER, et al. CDC activities for improving implementation of human papillomavirus vaccination, cervical cancer screening, and surveillance worldwide. Emerg Infect Dis. 2017