Monday, November 7, 2011

What my students are writing about -- HPV

I assigned my freshman year seminar writing students to write an annotated bibliography on a research topic in microbiology.  The overwhelmingly most popular topic is the human papillomavirus (HPV). (I have sixteen papers on HPV and two on HIV to read!) The controversy that the newly approved vaccine has brought about has not escaped these eighteen year olds.

Should my son get the HPV vaccine is a very informative article on JAAPA's when the patient asks resource site.

To Gardasil or not to Gardisil, tis the question...
Two HPV vaccines are licensed by the FDA and recommended by CDC. These vaccines are Cervarix (made by GlaxoSmithKline) and Gardasil (made by Merck).  Both vaccines are given in a three shot series that must be completed prior to exposure to the virus to be effective.  Gardasil protects against HPV types 6 and 11 that are causative agents of most genital warts in both sexes.  Gardasil has also been tested and licensed for use in males.

These vaccines are thought to give some protection against HPV-causing cancers (HPV 16) of the oropharynx as well.  I learned when shadowing an ENT PA recently that they are culturing adenoid and tonsil tissue for HPV now to check for this cause of head and neck cancer.
The Andy Warholized HPV virus

My students seem to be eager to learn more about this new vaccine and several have shared that they have already taken it.  They seemed surprised and somewhat more alert in the 8:30 class when I mentioned the prevalence of oral sex igniting infections with HPV and increased risk of head and neck cancers.

Their honesty concerning their interests is refreshing.  Some of the young men admitted that they weren't too concerned initially, since they don't have a cervix and therefore thought they were immune to the effects of this virus.
But once they investigated further
they became more invested in learning more about the HPV vaccine and how it may prevent some penile cancers as well.

It will be interesting to see their final papers on this topic.

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