(Vienna, 27th June 2011) A simple vaccination is all it takes to protect against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). To make people aware of this effective protection and to warn against the dangers of HPV, the MedUni Vienna organised an awareness day and launched a vaccination campaign for employees.
For decades, the clinics and institutes of the MedUni Vienna have played a leading role in the international development of treatment and diagnosis for HPV conditions. Now, by holding an awareness day and a vaccination campaign, the MedUni Vienna is making a stand in the battle against this harmful virus, which two out of every three people will come into contact with at some time in their lives. As part of this campaign, employees at the MedUni Vienna and their relatives can get themselves vaccinated against HPV infections. The vaccine, developed a few years ago with the involvement of scientists from the MedUni Vienna, provides protection in around 70 per cent of cases.
Hundreds of cases of HPV-related cancer a year in Austria alone
The figures prove just how worthwhile the HPV vaccination is: In Austria, 500 to 550 women a year develop invasive cervical cancer. According to Statistik Austria, around 150 to 180 women die from the condition every year. According to figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Austria, these numbers are even higher - with 600 people contracting the illness and around 300 dying from it every year. In Austria, around 5,000 women are admitted to hospitals year after year because the preliminary stages of cervical cancer - which can be prevented with a vaccination - have to be treated and removed.
The effect of HPV is insidious, as Professor Dr. Ursula Wiedermann-Schmidt, Head of the Institute of Specific Prophylaxis and Tropical Medicine at the MedUni Vienna, explains: "An infection with HPV initially progresses slowly, undiscovered and without any symptoms of illness, until it finally causes cancerous changes." Wiedermann-Schmidt continues: "Virtually all cases of cervical cancer are triggered by infections with HPV."
The HPV vaccination is most effective when given during childhood, says virus expert Wiedermann-Schmidt: "In view of the fact that the virus is transmitted through sexual intercourse, we recommend that vaccination is given as early as possible. For girls and boys, vaccinations are recommended between the ages of 9 and 15 years. The HPV vaccination is also recommended for women up to the age of 45 and men up to the age of 26."
The tremendous benefits that mass HPV vaccination can bring can be seen from Australia's example. University Professor Dr. Elmar A. Joura, from the Department of General Gynaecology and Gynaecological Oncology at the University Department of Gynaecology within the MedUni Vienna, explains: "Australia has carried out a very wide vaccination programme involving girls and young women from the ages of 11 to 26. After just two years since the start of the vaccination programme, there has been an over 60 per cent drop in the number of cases of genital warts. Among men, who are not being vaccinated in Australia, the drop was nevertheless 30 per cent. A recently published study also showed that precancerous changes of the cervix are now on the decline among young women in Australia."
MedUni Vienna played a key role in the development of the HPV vaccine
Several scientists from the Medical University were involved in the development of the HPV vaccine. Experts in the Department of Dermatology at the MedUni Vienna developed virus-like particles that make up a significant proportion of the vaccine. Scientists from the Women's Clinic at the MedUni Vienna also played a key role in the testing of the vaccine's clinical effectiveness.
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