Published: 08-03-2023 08:48 | Updated: 08-03-2023 10:13

Funding for global study on HPV-burden among girls and women

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Several KI researchers are part of an international project that has been awarded nearly $15 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with $1 million co-funding from the Swedish government. The project involves a multi-country study to better understand the burden of Human papillomavirus (HPV) among girls and women in low and lower middle-income countries.

The five-year study aims to inform intervention implementation and prioritization of research and development efforts involving HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer. HPV vaccines have been available since 2006, yet less than 15 percent of girls and women worldwide are fully vaccinated and coverage is even lower in low- and middle-income countries.

The study is led by the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), which recently established an office in Stockholm, in collaboration with researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), KI’s Department of Global Public Health, and partner institutions in three South Asian countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan) and five sub-Saharan African countries (the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Zambia).

The project will focus on the global HPV burden among girls and women ages 9 to 50 in countries that currently have no or limited data, and have either not yet introduced HPV vaccines into national immunization programs or have had mixed success with uptake. It will also include qualitative sub-studies to further understand how gender-related dynamics create barriers to HPV prevention, screening, and treatment services, led by the KI research team.

Gender inequality remains a barrier

Anna Kågesten, researcher at the Department of Global Public Health at Karolinska Institutet
Anna Kågesten. Photo: Joel Nilsson

“Gender inequality remains a barrier for women and girls to realize their sexual and reproductive health and rights globally,” says Assistant Professor Anna Kågesten, lead investigator at the Global and Sexual Health research group at the Department of Global Public Health, which will receive $496,000 (about 5 million Swedish kronor). “This study will help us unpack gender-related drivers such as social norms and stigma around young women’s sexuality, that shape their access to and uptake of HPV prevention, screening and treatment services in different contexts.”

This is one of several grants provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to collaborations involving the same research group at KI.

This news article is based on a press release from the International Vaccine Institute