The Pesky Human Papilloma Virus

Professor Ian Fraser is in Adelaide to deliver a lecture this evening on the now recognised role of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)  in causing head and neck cancers, for the Head and Neck Cancer week.

The Human Papilloma Virus is best known as the causative agent of cervical cancer, for which Professor Fraser led a team that developed the preventive vaccine Gardasil, recommended for both girls and now boys under 12 years of age.

Darwin Head and Neck Surgeon Dr Mahiban Thomas believes that HPV is now a more important risk factor than irritants such as alcohol and tobacco in causing these cancers with the virus being transmitted by oral sex or even by passionate kissing with multiple partners (The Advertiser p 4, 27/07/2015).

Whereas cervical cancer is responsible for about 200 deaths per annum in Australia, head and neck cancer is a much more formidable foe, responsible for some 3000 cases and about 1000 deaths per year. It is to be hoped that Professor Fraser’s lecture will receive the publicity it deserves, and that the level of Gardasil vaccination will increase. At present approximately 70% of girls and 30% boys are being vaccinated.

Australians will await with great interest his further research work in developing curative vaccines for both HPV and HSV2, the virus responsible for genital herpes.



Categories: Health and well-being

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