By Norma Erickson and Stephen Tunley
“There were 27 diagnosed HPV-related anal cancers in the vaccine group vs. 85 diagnoses in the control group, for a vaccine efficacy of 68.2% (95%GI, 51.4-79.7). For cervical cancer, researchers observed 28 diagnoses in the vaccine group compared with 116 in the control group. Vaccine efficacy against cervical HPV 16 was 75.8% (95% CI, 63.8-84.2).
For HPV 18, there were 20 diagnosed anal cancers in the vaccine group compared with 45 in the control group. Vaccine efficacy was 55.5% (95% CI, 25.2-74.2). [emphasis added]
Let us be clear, the research study showed no such thing as prevention of actual cancers and definitely not anal cancers, only HPV infections. There is a significant difference between HPV infection and cancer!
In particular, a review of page 6 of the study by Kreimer et al.,² published in Lancet Oncology reveals that:
“In the full cohort, vaccine efficacy against anal HPV 16/18 infection detected 4 years after vaccination was 62.0% (95% CI47.1-73.1) and the corresponding cervical vaccine efficacy was 76.4% (67.0-83.5); p for interaction by anatomical site was 0.031: table 2). Vaccine efficacy against anal HPV 16 was 68.2% (51.4-79.7); 27 events in the HPV group vs 45 events in the control group…..[emphasis added]
Thus, the Lancet Oncology paper clearly states that HPV vaccination was protective against HPV infections and NOT against anal cancer. This is also clear from the title of the Lancet Oncology study, “Efficacy of a bivalent HPV 16/18 vaccine against anal HPV 16/18 infection among young women: a nested analysis within the Costa Rica Vaccine Trial.”
If the HPV vaccine did indeed prove protective against anal cancer, it is more than likely the authors would have indicated so somewhere in their manuscript!
Noteworthy, the commentary on the Kreimer et al. study² published in the same issue of Lancet Oncology, by former lead researcher on both Cervarix and Gardasil clinical trials, is very important. In this commentary Dr. Diane Harper states that although the HPV vaccine Cervarix may prevent HPV infections associated with anal cancers, the overall benefit of prophylactic HPV vaccination against anal cancer in the heterosexual male population remains unknown. This is because efficacy trials are lacking and anal cancer incidence is rare (2 cases per 100,000 population). Furthermore, the end-stage precancerous HPV-related anal cancer lesions (AIN3 lesions) have a relatively low rate of malignant transformation in immunocompetent patients and, according to Harper, many people with AIN3 die with it, not of it.³
This type of poor and misleading reporting by Infectious Disease News¹ is very disappointing. The use of just two words – anal cancers – changes the implications of the research by Kreimer et al.² completely. What follows if such errors are not corrected is that the two words get repeated by others and perpetuated to the point where scientific fiction replaces the facts. Soon a vaccine against a virus becomes a cure for cancer – just like that.
One would think, or at least hope, reporters and journal editors responsible for ensuring the accuracy of scientific information would not allow such glaring errors in reporting. However, the Infectious Disease News commentary by Jason Harris¹ shows this is not the case. One has to wonder how many of such far from innocuous inaccuracies have been published in the past by a journal which:
“strives to be the global, definitive information source for ID professionals by delivering timely, accurate, authoritative and balanced reports on clinical issues, socioeconomic topics and industry developments, as well as presenting clinically relevant information on medical therapies for the benefit of the patient” [emphasis added]
The Infectious Disease News website states:
“Article review process: All articles posted on InfectiousDiseaseNews.com are reviewed by the Chief Medical Editor and Executive Editor, who are solely responsible for deciding upon their acceptance, rejection or need for revision, based upon their appropriateness to the mission of the publication. All staff-written news reports are sent to quoted sources for verification of media accuracy. Quotes and other information in staff-written news reports are verified for accuracy with sources prior to publication. Excluded from this policy are InfectiousDiseaseNews.com website-first articles, which are not sent to sources to facilitate the rapid dissemination of this news.”⁴
So here’s the rub, if you want accuracy, don’t read the website-first articles. Indeed, it appears rapid dissemination of inaccuracy is more important than dissemination of accuracy!
SANE Vax asks, why is this allowed? Perhaps in answering this question one should also ask the following: Who does such inaccurate reporting profit?
Infectious Disease News appears to have a prestigious editorial board. Chief Medical Editor, Dr. Paul Volberding is widely considered one of the world’s leading AIDS experts. In 1990, Dr. Volberding co-chaired the Sixth International Conference on AIDS, held in San Francisco, and has served on the international advisory committee for all subsequent international conferences. He is currently chief of the medical service at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and principal investigator and co-director of USCF’s Center for AIDS Research. He is also the co-editor of The Medical Management of AIDS, the most widely used textbook of HIV medicine. Bottom line, Dr. Volberding of all people should know the difference
One cannot help but noting Dr. Volberding’s financial disclosure in which he declares that he serves as the scientific advisor to an impressive range of pharmaceutical companies, including: Abbott, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Ortho Biotech, Pfizer/Agouron, Shire and Schering. In addition, Dr. Volberding is also on a speakers’ bureau for Gilead, GlaxoSmithKline, Ortho Biotech and Schering.6 Finally, according to the Infectious Disease News Article review process quoted above 4, Dr Volberding as the Chief Editor is solely responsible (together with the Executive Editor) for deciding upon the acceptance of papers, “based upon their appropriateness to the mission of the publication”.
All of the above leads to a disturbing possibility that the commentary on the study by Kremier et al. as presented in Infectious Disease News, was designed to provide an outcome that supports the promotion of Cervarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, as a cure for anal cancers.
Where are the peer review and safeguards to maintain scientific accuracy and protect medical consumers from this type of pharmaceutical biased propaganda? Where are the voices of regulatory authorities who are supposed to keep this type of thing from occurring again and again?
 Harris J. Targeting HPV 16/18 shows promise in cancer risk reduction. Infectious Disease News, 2011, http://www.infectiousdiseasenews.com/article/86993.aspx
 Kreimer AR, Gonzalez P, Katki HA, et al. Efficacy of a bivalent HPV 16/18 vaccine against anal HPV 16/18 infection among young women: a nested analysis within the Costa Rica Vaccine Trial. Lancet Oncology, Sep 2011;12(9):862-870
 Harper DM, Vierthaler SL. Who should be targeted for vaccination against anal cancer? Lancet Oncology, 2011:12(9):828-829
4 Infectious Disease News, Editorial Policy and Philosophy, Mission Statement. http://www.infectiousdiseasenews.com/aboutus.aspx#contact
5 Infectious Disease News, Meet the Editorial Board, http://www.infectiousdiseasenews.com/MeetBoard.aspx
6 University of California, San Francisco, Paul A. Volberding, MD, Director; http://hivinsite.ucsf.edu/InSite?page=ab-01-01-02