Category: vaccination

Invitation to apply for research funds

We have entered a new round of invitation to apply for research funds. We are particularly interested in providing initial funding in projects that may allow young researchers to obtain preliminary results as a prelude to acquire further funds from larger funding bodies.

We invite applications from researchers in the East and West Midland, the North East and North West Regions on projects relating to sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. All projects will be initially screened by the Scientific Committee of STIRF and those considered suitable will be sent for peer review by experts in the field. We encourage applications for

The following fields of research will be considerd in relation to STIs and HIV

  • Epidemiology of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases
  • Health care delivery including views of clients
  • Issues relating to deprived or marginalised communities.
  • Pathophysiology of diseases and syndromes
  • Inter-relationship between diseases
  • Treatment modalities
  • Complications of treatment and co-morbidities

Applications should not exceed £50,000 in the first year. Depending on satisfactory reports a further £25,000 may be available for the second year. Joint funding with other grant giving bodies will be considered.

Further information and guidance on how to apply can be found on

How to Apply for Research funds


Current vaccines cover only a minority of human papillomavirus (HPV) subtypes associated with cancer and genital warts

Effective vaccination exists for two sexually transmittable viruses, human papilloma virus (HPV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV). Other viruses have proved more problematic. A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed, yet again, that a vaccine for herpes virus remains elusive. The same is true for hepatitis C and even more for HIV.

Thus identifying at risk groups for HPV and HBV is essential for targeting vaccination strategies. Particularly as persistent infection with high-risk sexually transmitted HPVs (HR-HPV) can lead to development of cervical and other cancers, while low-risk types (low-risk HPV) may cause genital warts. In a recent publication by Ann Johnson and colleagues at University College London they explored the epidemiology of different HPV types in men and women in the UK and their association with demographic and behavioural variables.

Data collected for the British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, a cross-sectional survey undertaken in 1999–2001 were analysed. Half of all sexually experienced male and female respondents aged 18–44 years were invited to provide a urine sample. They tested 3123 stored urine samples for HPV DNA.

HPV infection, was prevalent in this population, detected in 29% of samples from women and 17% from men. Significantly 13 high risk HPV subtypes were detected in 16% of women and 10% of men. HPV subtypes, HPV types 16/18, which for part of the two available vaccines in the market, were found in only 5% of women and 3% of men. Types 6/11 which are responsible for most cases of genital warts were isolated in in 5% of women and 2%  of men. In multivariate analysis, HR-HPV was associated with new partner numbers, in women with younger age, single status and partner concurrency, and in men with number of partners without using condom(s) and age at first intercourse.

They concluded that HPV DNA was detectable in urine of a high proportion of the sexually active British population. In both genders, HR-HPV was strongly associated with risky sexual behaviour. The minority of HPV infections were of vaccine types that are currently used in the two available vaccines. These cover HPV 16/18 and 6/11 only.

The authors pointed out t is important to monitor HPV prevalence and type distribution following the introduction of vaccination as vaccination itself may alter the prvalence of the difefrent sun

Sexual behaviour as well as HPV types 6 and 11 are associated with genital warts

A recent study by GM Anic et al from  the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Fla., have found that human papillomavirus types 6 and 11, as well as recent sexual behavior, are strongly associated with the incidence of genital condyloma (wart) infection.

The strongest associations were found for infections with HPV types 6 and 11. The risk for condyloma also increased with an increasing number of female sexual partners but decreased with age. Sexual behaviors in the previous 3 months were also associated with a high risk for condyloma: a high number of male anal sex partners, more frequent vaginal intercourse and infrequent condom use. Also influencing the incidence of condyloma was ever having a sexually transmitted infection and ever having a partner with condyloma.

Since subclinical infection with HPV is more common than condylomas, this latter finding suggests that patients with visible genital warts are more likely to transmit condylomata to their sexual partner. This finding confirms an old study by the veteran British venerologist JD Oriel in 1971.

Factors strongly associated with condyloma were incident infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) types 6 and 11 (hazard ratio [HR], 12.42 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 3.78–40.77]), age (HR, 0.43 [95% CI, .26–.77]; 45–70 vs 18–30 years), high lifetime number of female partners (HR, 5.69 [95% CI, 1.80–17.97]; ≥21 vs 0 partners), and number of male partners (HR, 4.53 [95% CI, 1.68–12.20]; ≥3 vs 0 partners). The results suggest that HPV types 6 and 11 and recent sexual behavior are strongly associated with incident condyloma.

“The strong association between recent sexual history and incident condyloma after accounting for HPV infection suggests that prevention efforts targeting behavioral modification may be effective at reducing condyloma incidence among men who have not received the HPV vaccine,” the researchers wrote.

Oral human papillomavirus infection more common in US males

Almost 7 percent of American men and women are infected orally with the human papillomavirus (HPV), new research reveals, with men showing significantly higher infection rates than women. Indeed among those between the ages of 14 and 69, men seem to face a nearly threefold greater risk than women for oral HPV infection.

The study was part of the ongoing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). To better understand that connection, Gillison’s team sifted through data on nearly 5,600 men and women collected between 2009 and 2011 NHANES. All NHANES participants had been examined in person, during which all were tested for HPV.

In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on Janury 26, 2012 Dr. Maura Gillison, chair of cancer research in the department of viral oncology at Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center in Columbus reported  an overall oral HPV infection rate of 6.9 percent, with HPV-16 being the most common type.

Oral HPV incidence varied with age, however, with peak rates occurring among those between the ages of 30 and 34 (at 7.3 percent) as well as among men and women between 60 and 64 (11.4 percent). Overall, oral HPV infection hit the 10 percent mark among men. Among women it was just shy of 4 percent.

While those with a history of smoking, heavy drinking, and/or marijuana use appeared to face a higher risk for infection, sexual behavior also plays a key role in upping a person’s risk. For example, while those who had never had sex faced less than a 1 percent risk for oral HPV infection, prevalence hit 7.5 percent among those who were sexually active. And the greater the number of sexual partners, the higher the risk.

Calls to immunise teenage boys after huge rise in throat cancer

Cases of oropharyngeal cancer have more than doubled to over 1,000 annually since the mid-1990s after remaining stable for many years, Professor Hisham Mehanna, director of the Institute of Head and Neck Studies in Coventry reports.

The Department of Health requested the latest figures from Professor Hisham Mehanna, who has surveyed the incidence of HPV-related oropharyngeal cancer in the UK and other countries. “We are experiencing a very significant rise in oropharyngeal cancer. It used to be rare in our practice – now [head and neck cancer] is the most common cancer we see. All the studies show there is a strong association with oral sex.” It is also occurring in younger patients.

More than 70 per cent of cases are caused by human papilloma virus (HPV), compared with less than a third a decade ago. HPV is transmitted during sex, including oral sex and also possibly spread by open-mouth kissing. HPV is the main cause of cervical cancer in women, affecting almost 3,000 women a year in the UK.

Currently women are offered HPV vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. The quadrivalent vaccine also protests against genital warts in both women and also their male partners and is now being advocated by the Department of Health.

The US is considering offering HPV vaccine to men.

HIV highly homogeneous in early infection

Current findings suggest that the mucosal barrier is the major site of viral selection in sexual transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), transforming the complex inoculum to a small, homogeneous founder virus population. In a recent study from Zurich the authors analyzed HIV-1 viral seqiuences in the C2-V3-C3 region in 145 patients with characteristics  primary HIV-1 infection. They found that  the meedian viral diversity within env was 0.39% (range 0.04%–3.23%). Viral diversity did not correlate with viral load, but it was slightly correlated with the duration of infection.

They also found that  neither transmission mode, gender, nor STI predicted transmission of more heterogeneous founder virus populations. Only 2 patients (1.4%) were infected with CXCR4-tropic HIV-1 with a duakl-tropic R5/X4-tropic–mixed population. The other patients were infecetd by the CCR5-trophic virus which targets the macrophage series.

The authors concluded that transmission of multiple HIV-1 variants might be a complex process that is not dependent on mucosal factors alone. CXCR4-tropic viruses can be sexually transmitted in rare instances, but their clinical relevance remains to be determined. These results have imprtant implications for vaccine development.

An alternative explanation for these results, not discussed by the authors, is that the individuals were infected by a small number or even a single CCR5-trophic virus which subseqeuntly mutates to the complex virus soup that is seen in long-term infected subjects.

UK NHS finally accepts to use quadrivalent HPV vaccine in girls

From next September girls in the United Kingdom being vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) will receive Gardasil, the vaccine that protects against genital warts as well as cervical cancer.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended that the HPV vaccine should be offered routinely to girls aged 12 to 13 years and in a catch-up programme to those up to 18 years of age. Since then, 1.5 million young women and girls have been protected.

GlaxoSmithKline, which has been providing the Cervarix vaccine to the UK’s HPV vaccination programme since it launched in September 2008, said in a statement that it did not take part in the latest tendering exercise to provide a vaccine for the programme because the government made it clear that it wanted to protect girls against the types of HPV that caused cervical cancer and those that caused genital warts.

Gardasil, which is supplied by Sanofi Pasteur MSD, protects against HPV types 16 and 18, which cause 70% of cervical cancers, and HPV 6 and 11, which are responsible for nine in 10 cases of genital warts. Cervarix protects against HPV types 16 and 18.

When the UK programme launched, health campaigners criticised the choice of Cervarix as being short sighted and a missed opportunity (BMJ 2008;336:a451, doi:10.1136/bmj.a451)

Worldwide Gardasil has been the vaccine of choice. It has been selected by health authorities in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Sweden for regional or national vaccination programmes against cervical cancer.

Research from Australia has shown that cases of genital warts have nearly disappeared since 2007 when the national vaccination programme against cervical cancer using Gardasil was introduced (Sexually Transmitted Infectionsdoi:10.1136/sextrans-2011-050234). The study found that new diagnoses of genital warts among women under 21 years attending a sexual health centre in Melbourne fell from 18.6% in 2007-8 to 1.9% in 2010-11 and in heterosexual men aged under 21 from 22.9% to 2.9%. During the period before the introduction of the vaccination programme, new cases of genital warts rose by 1.8%.

US Committee recommends HPV vaccine for men

Human papilloma virus (HPV) causes warts but also is the underlying cause of various cancers, particularly cervical cancer in women.  HPV vaccines are now available and recommended for young women to prevent cervical cancer, and in the case of quadrivalent vaccine also genital warts. [see our news item: Quadrivalent wart vaccine would prevent high cost of care for genital warts ] The vaccine is more effective if administered to children aged 11-12 years, before they become sexually active

Now a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that the quadrivalent vaccine can prevent intraepithelial neoplasia, a precursor of anal cancer, in young gay men. anal intraepithelial neoplasia associated with the HPV types linked to cervical cancer (HPV 16 and 18) were reduced by 55% in the vaccinated group. Consequently the US Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practice has recommended the roll out of vaccination to all children aged 11-12, regardless of sex.


Quadrivalent wart vaccine would prevent high cost of care for genital warts

In a recent study by Desai et al published in the journal Sexually Transmitted infection it was estimated that the annual cost of treating genital warts in general practice and genitourinary clinics was approximately £16.8 million. Most of this is potentially preventable if the government chooses the quadrivalent Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine which includes HPV typed 6 and 11 which are the commonest cause of genital infections in addition to types 16 and 18 which are the main causes of cervical cancer. Unfortunately the Department of Health currently advocates vaccination with a vaccine containing types 16 and 18 only which would not protect against genital warts and is also more expensive.