As flu season comes to an end, one of the top trending articles for the month of April discussed a major surge in flu activity in the northeast region. In addition, sexually transmitted diseases, such as HPV, HIV, and Herpes, dominated the news this past month. Finally, the top spot goes to a case report on the first human case of Powassan virus identified in a boy in Connecticut last year.
#5: Study Shows First Statistical Evidence for Herd Protection from HPV Vaccine
A study spanning over 11 years aimed to assess the efficacy of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in females, as well examine herd immunity, according to Sara Oliver, MD, MSPH.
Dr. Oliver presented her findings at the 2017 Epidemic Intelligence Service Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 24, 2017.
Using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), the research team examine HPV prevalence from 2003 to 2014. This was broken up into 3 eras: 2003 to 2006 was the pre-vaccine era, 2007 to 2010 the early vaccine era, and 2011 to 2014 the recent-vaccine era. Patient information regarding medical history, sexual behavior, and “demographic information that allowed them to use weighted logistical regression models to adjust for race and poverty,” was collected through home interviews and other methods of data retrieval. Study subjects submitted self-collected cervicovaginal swabs for testing, which were collected in a mobile examination center.
Swabs were collected in approximately 85% of study subjects from the three vaccination eras. Those who chose to not submit swabs claimed to either have never engaged in sexual activities (oral, vaginal, or anal), or to have had more than 3 encounters, which “balanced out” the non-submitting population.
To read the study findings, click here
#4: NIH Uncovers Another Piece to the Puzzle That is Herpes
There are two different viruses that can cause herpes: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), and herpes simples virus type 2 (HSV-2), and contracting either means infection for life. Herpes infection often leads to oral cold sores, genital lesions, and serious eye conditions, to name a few. In addition, HSV infection puts individuals at greater risk for becoming infected with or transmitting HIV. The virus is also known to cause neurologic complications in infants.
Previously, researchers from Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, working alongside researchers from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health came to an alarming discovery. These researchers found that infants born to women who had active genital herpes infections in the early stages of pregnancy are at increased risk of autism spectrum disorders.
More recently, researchers from the National Institute of Health (NIH) were able to identify “a set of protein complexes that are recruited to viral genes and stimulated both initial infection and reactivation from latency.” In addition, the research team noted that some environmental factors can also reactivate the virus. Using mouse models, this group was able to pinpoint the exact compound that reactivated components of HCF-1 protein complexes, which may help initiate infection reactivation.
Read more about the NIH’s research here