HPV Protect: Working Together for the Elimination of HPV in Europe
What is HPV and how can we fight it?
HPV (human papillomavirus) is a sexually transmitted infection that causes about 5% of all cancers worldwide. The most common of these cancers is cervical, but the virus also causes in cancers of the vagina, vulva, anus, penis, head and neck. A significant proportion of the cancers caused by HPV in Europe are in men. Currently, HPV is responsible for approximately 67,500 new cancer cases each year in the 27 EU Member States.
All the HPV cancers can be eliminated by vaccination. Compared to many other cancer prevention strategies – such as tobacco control, reducing alcohol consumption, increasing physical activity or tackling obesity – HPV vaccination is safe, easy to deliver and has an immediate positive health impact. In fact, it is probably now the single most effective means of cancer prevention in the medical arsenal. Currently, all EU Member States have a HPV vaccination programme but many have a limited impact because they only cover girls or have a low level of uptake.
ECO supports the introduction of gender-neutral HPV vaccination throughout the WHO European region with an uptake of 90% to ensure that the whole population is protected.
What about screening?
The World Health Organization now has a global strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer. This plan includes screening 70% of women using a high-performance test by the age of 35, and again by the age of 45.
ECO supports nationally-organised, population-based, cervical cancer screening programmes for people with a cervix, using HPV DNA testing as the gold standard, throughout the WHO European Region. We also support self-sampling procedures to increase access and coverage.
What are we doing across Europe?
The European Cancer Organisation's HPV Action Network works to eliminate all the cancers caused by HPV. In particular, the objective is to see every young person vaccinated against HPV, following the recommendations included in Europe's Beating Cancer Plan, and cervical cancer screening programmes in every country in line with WHO's strategy. Our main objectives are
- Greater HPV awareness;
- Vaccine availability for everyone on a gender-neutral basis;
- Effective screening to detect cervical cancer early.
To achieve these goals, we are, first, mapping existing vaccination and screening policies so that we understand current policy and practice; and, secondly, we are supporting advocacy efforts in countries that are falling behind in comparison to similar countries in Europe.
We are now actively supporting advocacy campaigns on HPV elimination in Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria, bringing together and supporting organisations in those countries to make the case for faster progress on HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening.
Click on the country card below to discover more about each.