A Rock Band that Battles HPV

This evening I attended a remarkable event sponsored by the Pittsburgh Jewish Healthcare Foundation and HPV Pittsburgh at Magee Women's Hospital of UPMC. The event included a screening of an interesting documentary film titled N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease) which chronicles the rock band of the same name whose members are all gynecologic oncologists whose focus is on raising awareness of the cancers they expertly treat. 

Among those cancers several (cervical, vulvar, and vaginal) are the result of infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). What is special about this cancer-causing virus is that highly efficacious vaccines have been developed to combat it.

Despite the availability of these life-saving vaccines since 2006, only about 57% of adolescent females and 35% of adolescent males have received one or more doses of these vaccines. As HPV is virtually the exclusive cause of cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, and penile cancer as well as significant proportion of head & neck cancers these vaccines--which now include a 9-valent version--have the potential to alter the cancer landscape by eradicating many cancers (and genital warts as well). 

As an infectious disease physician, I relish treating infectious diseases, however I don't bemoan the patients I never see because of vaccines. It is an unequivocally better state.