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Leaders in the field of human papillomavirus (HPV)-related cancer prevention gathered at the highly anticipated Mountain West HPV Stakeholder Meeting to close 2023. The event, hosted by Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah (the U), is a pivotal step forward in the effort to eradicate HPV-related cancers in the region.
HPV is a common viral infection and the American Cancer Society (ACS) reports it affects 80% of Americans. The virus is a leading cause of several types of cancer that include cervical, throat, tonsil, anal, vaginal, and penile. The summit’s primary goal was to unite the brightest minds and resources to ensure a healthier, cancer-free future for generations to come.
Throughout the summit, participants attended lectures, panel discussions, and collaborative sessions focused on the state of HPV cancer prevention and vaccinations in the Mountain West, the burden of a HPV cancer diagnosis and treatment on individuals and families, the latest scientific research and strategies for eliminating HPV-related cancers, identifying barriers, challenges, and solutions to HPV vaccination, and new partnerships and collaborations.
Key stakeholders, like Huntsman Cancer Institute and ACS, champion cancer prevention and play a crucial role in combating HPV-related cancers. For nearly a decade, Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Mountain West HPV Vaccination Coalition (the Coalition), led by Deanna Kepka, PhD, MPH, investigator at Huntsman Cancer Institute, and associate professor of population health sciences in the College of Nursing at the U, has fostered collaboration among leaders, advocates, health professionals, and the community. Among other initiatives, ACS’s Mission: HPV Cancer Free Quality Improvement Initiative facilitates healthcare provider education, engages stakeholders and partners to improve vaccination rates, leads and supports health systems interventions, and disseminates accurate HPV vaccine information to parents.
Experts and leaders at the summit included Mike West, oropharyngeal cancer survivor and attorney, Jessica Payne, MPH, epidemiologist at the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (UT DHHS), R. Neal Davis, MD, medical director and pediatrician at Intermountain Health, Carole Stipelman, MD, MPH, medical director of the U’s pediatric clinic, Kayla Rypien and Shannon England-Rice, UT DHHS Immunization Program representatives, and Brian D. Poole, PhD, professor at Brigham Young University. Fifty attendees joined from Montana, Wyoming, and Utah and another 30 participated via teleconference.
“Meeting in-person was inspiring,” Kepka recalls. “We have a fabulous coalition that demonstrates a strong passion and commitment towards the prevention and elimination of HPV-related cancers. This energy spans from the Four Corners region of Utah to Idaho and Montana’s Canadian border. I am confident that we will reach new heights in Mountain West HPV vaccination rates through strong partnerships, education, and outreach.”
Participants departed with a renewed resolve to eradicate these cancers with the latest strategies, interventions, and policies. Together, these leaders are taking bold steps toward making their shared vision a reality.
Those interested in joining the Mountain West HPV Vaccination Coalition can sign up for their mailing list.
The ACS would like to acknowledge and disclose that its Mission: HPV Cancer Free Quality Improvement Initiative is made possible through generous funding from Merck and the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation. The Coalition would like to thank Huntsman Cancer Foundation and Huntsman Cancer Institute for their continued financial support.