Associate Professor of Medicine William Bonnez, M.D. and Associate Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology Robert Rose gave a talk on Monday in Hoyt Auditorium, explaining the new Human Papilloma Virus vaccine and how it can help prevent cervical cancer.

Carrie Bukowski, a sophomore assistant at UHS Health Promotion Office and Co-Chair of the Student Health Advisory Commitee, was one of the organizers of the event.

“With this talk, we hope to raise awareness of the importance of the HPV vaccine to women, especially those in our age range, as the vaccine targets women between the ages of nine and 26,” Bukowski said.

UHS intern and SUNY Brockport senior Jon Brown was also involved in the planning of the event.

“It is essential to clarify how to use the vaccine and to advertise the fact that it is available here at UHS,” Brown said.

Genital HPV is the most common sexually transmitted virus in the United States – about 20 million people in the country are infected, and 80 percent of the sexually active population have been infected with HPV at some point, mostly during adolescence and young adulthood. There are over 200 strains of HPV, two of which (types 16 and 18) are responsible for 70 percent of all cervical cancers. Gardasil, the new HPV vaccine developed by Merck, specifically targets four strains of the virus, HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18, and has been found to be almost 100 percent effective for the prevention of diseases caused by these strains.

Bonnez gave the first part of the presentation, focusing on important facts about the HPV virus, its prevalence and its connection to cervical cancer.

“HPV is present in virtually all cervical cancers, which is the second most common cancer in women worldwide after breast cancer,” Bonnez said. “5.2 percent of all cancers are caused by HPV.”

Rose delivered the second part of the talk, explaining the process undertaken to prove the relationship between the HPV virus and cervical cancer, as well as the development and administration of the vaccine.

“The vaccine is given in three doses over a six month period,” Rose said. “The second dose is given two months after the first, and the third is given six months after the first. The cost is $150 per dose.”

Although the vaccine is offered through UHS, it is not covered by all insurance providers yet. The college’s BlueCross BlueShield insurance does not cover the vaccine. BlueCross currently insures 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students.

At the end of the presentation, the doctors took questions from the audience. One question addressed the vaccine’s ability to cure an already existing infection.

“There is no evidence that the vaccine would cure an existing infection,” Rose said. “We are currently working on a therapeutic vaccine to help women who are already infected with the virus. If a woman is already infected with one strain, the vaccine will be effective in preventing against the other HPV types.”

Another question addressed possible long term side effects of the vaccine.

“No serious side effects have been determined,” Rose said. “The most common side effects included temporary pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, possibly accompanied by fever or headaches. Five years into the vaccine trial, no evidence has been found of adverse side effects in the long term.”

Over 100 students and faculty members attended the HPV talk and many of them found the presentation very informative.

“Dr. Bonnez and Dr. Rose explained in great detail not only how someone can contract the virus and how it can potentially become cancerous, but they also comprehensively described the procedures they undertook to develop a vaccine,” Student Association Speaker of the Senate and sophomore Hallie Cohn said. Barbosu is a member of the class of 2010.

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