By Dr. Deborah Money
In 2006, the first vaccine to protect against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) was
approved in Canada. This vaccine protects against the virus (HPV) which is the
known cause of cervical cancer and genital warts. While HPV vaccine has been
well studied in healthy young women, it is not known how well it will work in girls
or women with HIV infection.
This study will evaluate the HPV vaccine response in a cohort of 500 HIV positive
females from across Canada providing important data on immune responses,
side effects and long term protection against HPV in this immune compromised
group of women.
It is hypothesized that HPV vaccination will result in a variable immune response
and consequently differential vaccine effectiveness in some HIV infected girls
and women, and that co-factors including, T-cell immune dysfunction, age,
prior HPV infection, injection drug use and ethnicity will substantially affect this
This data is necessary to employ appropriate vaccination programs in Canada for
this vulnerable group. In turn, the information from this study will also be valuable
towards implementing HPV vaccine programs in the developing world where
HIV infection is widespread. Although, most cases of cervical cancer in Canada
are prevented by early detection via Pap smear screening, this is not the case
in the developing world where access to Pap screening is limited. This vaccine
has great promise to prevent both HPV infection and its serious consequences
in Canada and can be life saving on a much larger scale in the developing world
where cervical cancer is a leading cause of death among women.
Dr. Money is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, located at the Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of British Columbia. Dr. Money is the Executive Director of the Women’s Health Research Institute, Provincial Health Services Authority.