Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths among women in Latin America and the Caribbean. For example, of the 80,000 new cases and 36,000 cervical cancer deaths reported in the Americas in 2008 alone, Latin American and Caribbean countries accounted for the vast majority.
In January 2007, Sabin joined forces with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Harvard School of Public Health and the Institut Catala d’Oncologia (Barcelona, Spain) to conduct a comprehensive study of HPV epidemiological data in Latin America, in an attempt to address this alarming global health concern. This study, the first major assessment of HPV impact in the region, showed that the virus is far more common than anyone expected. It also effectively demonstrated that routine screening, along with vaccination, is the most promising way to tackle this disease.
Differences in resources and available screening programs exist, making it difficult for each country to decide whether vaccination is affordable, even if it may be cost-effective. If these challenges could be addressed, researchers concluded that half a million cervical cancer deaths could be prevented over 10 years with the introduction of an HPV vaccine in the region.