Sunday, August 21, 2011

International Conference Update

The schedule for this year's International Papillomavirus Conference in Berlin Germany has been finalized. My presentation, HPV - The Patient Experience is the first in the experience of the conference given by a patient and I commend the organizers of this conference in recognizing the need to include the voice of those most affected by HPV - the patients.

It is my hope that this will set a new standard by which future conferences will continue to include the voice of the patient. There is much that can be learned from the patient's input however for too long the medical community has not appreciated that they could learn anything useful from them aside from the results provided regarding physical research. But HPV is not solely a physical condition but a psychological one as well.

In finalizing my presentation I realize just how much of the psychological aspects of an HPV diagnosis is relevant to the development of guidelines currently only focused on scientific physical evidence. While this is certainly a significant factor, the psychological aspect simply cannot be ignored if the patient is going to be treated as a whole.

We are not just physical nor just psychological beings but a delicate combination of both. It is important for me to dispel the myth that providing the patient with information will only result in hysteria and upset. In my experience it is exactly the opposite. It is that lack of education of the patient which results in psychological distress. The feelings of not only the unknown but the loss of control over their bodies as well The loss of control is especially true in the case of persistent disease in which the patient cannot in many instances effectuate a change in the progression of precancerous lesions. Younger individuals, once feeling invincible with the world ahead of them are now fearful and concerned about the potential for loss of future fertility and possibly death - something which, because of their age they typically would never have had to face if not for HPV.

It is also important that women not continue to have to bear the burden of HPV diagnosis themselves and a test for men must be developed. In addition the development of a therapeutic vaccine for those already infected with the virus is paramount. The percentage of individuals who actually complete the three doses of the current vaccine in the US is only 30% and without a widespread public education campaign far more individuals will become infected than those protected.

This will certainly prove to be a precedent setting conference.