Emory Report
April 30, 2007
Volume 59, Number 29

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April 30, 2007
HPV vaccine and cervical cancer prevention focus of free seminar

by janet christenbury

Emory medical experts will host a free seminar to discuss the most common sexually transmitted disease, how it can lead to cervical cancer and the new vaccine for prevention available to girls and young women. The community educational session, held at Emory Crawford Long Hospital’s Glenn Auditorium on Monday, May 14, at 7 p.m., will include a question and answer opportunity.

Human papillomavirus is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimates that more than 20 million men and women in the U.S. are currently infected with HPV and there are 6.2 million new infections each year. HPV is most common in women and men who are in their late teens and early 20s. By age 50, at least 80 percent of women will have acquired HPV infection.

In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the approval of Gardisil, the first vaccine developed to prevent cervical cancer, precancerous genital lesions and genital warts caused by HPV. The vaccine is highly effective against four strains of the HPV virus, including two that cause about 70 percent of cervical cancers. The vaccine is approved for use in females nine to 26 years of age.

Kevin Ault, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the School of Medicine, was instrumental in researching the vaccine prior to its approval. Before coming to Emory, Ault served as a clinical trials investigator for the vaccine during his tenure at the University of Iowa School of Medicine.

“As far as a cancer vaccine goes, this is the best we have,” said Ault, who has been working on the HPV vaccine for more than a decade. “In four or five generations, we have gone from cervical cancer being the most common cause of cancer death in the United States for women to being a vaccine-preventable disease. That’s a really remarkable story if you trace this research over the last 50 to 60 years.”
Yet still 10 women die each day from cervical cancer in the U.S., Ault said. Rates in Fulton County alone are about twice the national average.

Along with Ault, Emory experts Mary Dolan, primary care gynecology/obstetrics; Cyril Spann, cervical cancer symptoms and treatments; and Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, adolescent gynecology care, will speak at the May 14 educational seminar.

For more information, call 404-778-7777.