Nobel Laureate Makes Strong Case for Vaccinating Young Males against HPV to Prevent Cervical Cancer in Females

Ellen J.Sullivan, MS, MSJ
Director of Corporate Communications and Advocacy

Nobel Laureate Makes Strong Case for Vaccinating Young Males against HPV to Prevent Cervical Cancer in Females

(March 26, 2012) – Nobel Prize winner Harald zur Hausen called for vaccinating both young males and females for human papillomavirus (HPV) in an achievable quest to eradicate cervical cancer, which is the second leading type of women’s cancer worldwide. Zur Hausen made his remarks at a gathering of more than 1,600 members of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology during its 43rd Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer® in Austin.

“If we wish to eradicate these types of infections – then theoretically we can do it,” zur Hausen said. “And if we wish to achieve this (eradication of HPV) in a foreseeable period of time, then we should vaccinate both genders globally.”

He pointed out that educational, cultural and religious barriers contribute to the lack of knowledge or willingness to address or discuss the subject by public health officials, teachers, parents and even some physicians.  Zur Hausen also said that if society were to vaccinate just one gender to prevent the spread of cervical-cancer causing HPV, it would be more effective to vaccinate just males, highlighting the potential medical value of male HPV vaccinations. Zur Hausen also noted that research shows that early fears of the side effects of the HPV vaccine were overblown, and Australian research shows that there is about one adverse reaction in 100,000 vaccinations, which confirms the safe nature of the vaccine.

Keynote speaker for this year’s Annual Meeting on Women’s Cancer, Harald zur Hausen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2008 for his pioneering discovery of the role of HPV in the development of cancer of the cervix.  He currently is professor emeritus, after having served as Chairman of the Management Board and Scientific Director of the German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany.

Zur Hausen said approximately 275,000 women die each year of cervical cancer, some 85 percent in economic-constrained countries, with more than 500,000 new cases appearing in women globally each year.